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Preventing alpine skiing injuries – how effective are the countermeasures?

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Aim The aim of this review was to determine the extent to which the effectiveness of countermeasures for preventing alpine skiing injuries has been evaluated. Methods The methodology involved a critical review based on the available international literature and sports equipment standards, as well as consultation with experts in the field. Where possible, the review focused on controlled trials. Results Key injury countermeasures in skiing identified in this review include physical conditioning programmes, ski-bindings and their timely release, professional adjustment of ski-bindings and the use of mechanical testing devices for this, design of ski pole handles, helmets for children (and adults), ski patrollers, skier education, speed control on the slopes and safe lifting equipment. A tabular categorisation of the types of evidence for the effectiveness of injury countermeasures is presented. This demonstrates that the weight of evidence is generally based on a combination of data-based or biomechanical testing evidence and informed opinion/anecdotal evidence. There is minimal evidence based on controlled trials in the field. The most evaluated countermeasures are ski bindings and ski pole handles. Properly adjusted ski bindings have the potential for a 3.5-fold reduction in lower extremity injuries, particularly knee injuries. Ski pole handle design needs further innovation and attention. An immediate concern is the generally poorer standard of children's equipment, ski bindings and their adjustment. Conclusion Skiing is a sport that is growing in popularity, but with a need for controlled trials of its injury prevention countermeasures. This review provides a basis for further action in injury prevention research, development and implementation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-06-01

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