The epidemiology of skiing injuries in Antarctica

A retrospective analysis of all skiing injuries experienced by members of the British Antarctic Survey between 1989 and 1995 was undertaken to test the hypothesis that skiing was responsible for a disproportionate number and severity of injuries compared with other activities. Fifty-nine new consultations for skiing injuries were recorded. This represented 3.2% of all consultations (annual range 1.3–6.7%), or 9.7% of all consultations due to trauma. The mean incidence was 84.3/1000 population/year. The annual proportion and rate of consultation fluctuated but no overall trends were noted. The lower limb was the commonest site of injury (76.3%), with the ratio of lower limb: upper limb injuries being 6.4:1. The commonest single injury was an isolated medial collateral ligament knee sprain (23.7% of all consultations). Head injuries comprised 8.5% and ulnar collateral ligament thumb sprains 5.1%. Assessment of injury by the Injury Severity Score (ISS) showed that skiing injuries were significantly more likely to be non-trivial (ISS>2) than work-related injuries [χ2(1, N=56)=55.6, p<0.001] or injuries of all causes [χ2(1, N=56)=65.0, p<0.001]. They were significantly more likely to need radiological investigation than all injuries [χ2(1, N=59)=22.0, p<0.001]. The most severe (ISS 13), survivable injury seen during the study period resulted from a skiing accident. This excess of non-trivial injury raises important management issues, particularly as the majority (81%) were recreational.


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Authors: Cattermole, Trevor J.

1 January, 1999
Injury / 30
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