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Preventing snowboarding injuries – what is the evidence?

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Snowboarding is quickly becoming a popular sport at alpine resorts. In contrast to alpine skiing, where injuries to the knee and thumb are most common, the wrist (and forearm) and ankle are the most frequently injured body regions for snowboarders. Unfortunately, the rapid international growth of the sport has not been matched by detailed epidemiological evaluation of the injuries specific to snowboarding or the countermeasures to prevent them. The aim of this paper is to critically review the literature describing injury prevention measures, or countermeasures, for snowboarding. In doing so, it provides an evaluation of the extent to which these countermeasures have been demonstrated to be effective or associated with the occurrence of new types of injuries. Few countermeasures specific for snowboarding were found to have been formally evaluated. The countermeasures to which some attention has been paid are boots, bindings, wrist guards, skill level and methods of falling. Skill level and the other injury countermeasures apply more generally across the sport. Recommendations for countermeasure implementation include: education for snowboarders, adherence to snow conduct and safety codes, preparing snowboarders for their activity and maintenance of parks and runs. Recommendations for improved data collections include: standardising and maintaining existing data collections, collecting information about equipment used by snowboarders and monitoring injury trends. Further biomechanical and epidemiological research needs to be undertaken on knee/ankle and wrist/forearm injuries. Evaluation of countermeasures needs to keep pace with the rapid developments in this field. Particular attention should be directed towards evaluations of the role of wristguards, boots/bindings, fall technique and lessons in preventing injuries. Given the rapidly increasing popularity of the sport, the need for the safety equipment to be evaluated would seem to be a priority, along with identification of the mechanisms of injury.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-09-01

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