UR Medicine is a proud participant in the Stop Sports Injury Campaign. To help keep kids in the game for life, STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) targets the sports that have the highest rates of overuse and trauma injuries. The development of STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention) Sports Injuries was initiated by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).
Most snowsport injuries are traumatic, caused by being on dangerous terrain, lift accidents, falls, and collisions. In many instances, fatigue after a long day on the slopes or poor judgment can be blamed for injuries. The most common issues that predispose people to injury are:
The wide range of skiing and snowboarding injuries involves many areas of the body, including:
Fortunately, most snowsport injuries are minor and can be treated with rest, bracing, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication, and avoidance of secondary injury. H owever, some fractures and ligament injuries may require surgical intervention where recovery periods vary from 3 to 6 months or possibly more.
Proper Instruction and Equipment
Instruction prior to getting on the slopes is important in preventing injuries. Instructors can educate beginners on the importance of a good warm-up and cool-down, properly fitted equipment, and safe skiing techniques. These same principles hold true for snowboarders. They can also determine at what point it is appropriate for beginners to progress to more advanced levels of terrain.
Appropriate equipment is critical to being safe. Poorly functioning or improperly adjusted equipment is a frequent cause of injuries. Bindings that are too loose or too tight, as well as equipment that is improperly sized or used on improper terrain, can cause injury. Preventative equipment such as helmets can prevent disastrous and even fatal accidents, even though resorts do not universally require them. Only about 48% of U.S. skiers and snowboarders routinely wear helmets. In terrain parks, wrist guards and elbow and kneepads are also recommended. The use of protective equipment has been associated with a 43% decrease in the rate of head, neck, and face injuries.
Parents play an important role in educating their children about safe skiing and snowboarding practices. They should help their children avoid terrain that is beyond their ability and encourage professional instruction and routine rest breaks with rehydration. It is also important to caution children against improper speeds and the risks of skiing/snowboarding out-of-bounds.
Common Sense Precautions
Most injuries occur after lunch and when fatigued. Be sure to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day and stop to rest every couple of hours. In addition, changing snow and ice conditions can dramatically increase the complexity of terrain quickly. Abiding by the signs and warnings are imperative for your safety and the safety of others.
National Ski Areas Association Responsibility Code for Reducing Risk
The following expert consultants contributed to the tip sheet:
Peter J. Millett, MD, MSc