John Seivert: Prevention of skiing, snowboarding injuries

The snow is here. So far, this winter is looking to be one for the ages. With this last weekend’s winter storm dropping several feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, every winter sports enthusiast has already been enjoying the snow or is getting ready to do some turns on the hill. Once these skiers and snowboarders make it up to the mountains, there will likely be some injuries. Many of these injuries can be avoided with proper sports injury prevention training. Looking at these injuries over the years can give us some insight into how to stay injury-free and enjoy an entire winter sports season.

Demographics of alpine skiing and snowboarding injuries are highest in young males. The statistics even state that there is a 25% higher rate of injuries to youths if they are involved in a school-organized outing. This shouldn’t surprise us, as we know boys like to push the limits. There are some interesting statistics when comparing the most common snowboarding vs. skiing injuries. Knee sprains were less likely (14% vs. 27%), spinal injuries were more likely (12% vs. 4%), foot or ankle injuries were more likely (28% vs. 5%), and distal radius fractures were more likely (10% vs. 1%). Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee saw more than 50 distal radius fractures on a Saturday in February several years ago. Snowboarders accounted for most of these wrist fractures. Head injuries account for 17% of skiing and snowboarding injuries.