Skiing and snowboarding are less dangerous than other high-energy sports, but still lead to plenty of injuries, some of which are severe and require medical attention.
Types of Skiing & Snowboarding Injuries
- Forearm and Wrist Fractures (by far the most common)
- Snowboarder’s Ankle (Talus fractures of the ankle)
- Shoulder Fractures and Dislocations
- Elbow Dislocations and Fractures
- Head Injuries
- Chest, Abdominal, & Spinal Injuries
Who Gets Injured in Skiing & Snowboarding Accidents?
Beginner skiers and snowboarders are the most likely to be injured, but their injuries are usually not severe. Injury frequency decreases as skill increases. Even though they tend to wear more protective gear, experts sustain more severe injuries because they take more chances.
Male youths between the ages of 16–25 are the highest risk group. This is likely because of the ‘invincibility myth’ that many young people ascribe to. Those who have less than 7 days of experience are also at a high risk.
When a person hits the slopes for the first time there is high risk of wrist fracture, due to falls and lack of balance. It is best to take it easy the first few runs and get your balance and bearings.
Risk of injury is also high when riding an unfamiliar mountain. Make sure you scout your run the first time down. Tourists are much more likely to get injured because they don’t know the terrain.
Forearm and Wrist Fractures
There are several types of forearm and wrist fractures. Here are some of the most sever:
- Displaced Fracture – When the bones have been pushed out of position
- Compound/Open Fracture – When the bones have been pushed through the skin
- Intra-Articular Fracture – When the break goes through the line of the wrist joint
- Comminuted Fracture – When the wrist has been broken into many fragments
A snowboarder can sustain one, or a combination of these fractures. All of these injuries are serious. So be careful on the slopes!
The Talus bone can be injured when the board’s nose catches in the snow. This portion of the talus bone becomes impinged between the calcaneus, the heel bone and the fibula, one of the upper ankle bones. With enough energy, the lateral process will snap. Sadly, this injury is often misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain as it hurts in the same place. True ankle sprains are rare in snowboarding since they require twisting or rotational energy. Boots, bindings, and board prevent most ankle sprains.
X-rays many not identify the damage. It is good practice to keep the boarder non-weight bearing until CT scan results can be examined. If not treated correctly, Snowboarders Ankle will likely lead to permanent joint damage.
If the fracture is small and non-displaced, a removable cast boot and non-weight bearing for 6 weeks is generally successful. With larger fragments (involving more of the joint) or with any displacement, surgery is required.
Being involved into any kind of sport requires a person to be aware of the precautionary measures as well. In addition to the intuitive measures discussed above, good boots and rigid bindings will force the board to flex when “bonking” the nose.