Here are the latest complete injury statistics available from the Scottish Snow Sports Safety Study - up to and including the 2004/05 season. On a separate webpage you can find a 4 year trend analysis of our results from 1999/2000 to 2002/2003. Click here for this data. This is a prospective case-control study that started in 1999 at the three largest ski areas in Scotland. In 2001, it was extended to all five Scottish ski areas. Not all the statistics we have available are published on this website - this is to avoid jeopardising future medical publications that are in the pipeline. It is important to note that all the information on this page is copyrighted internationally. If you wish to use any of the information then you must send me an email first to obtain permission. I get frequent requests for additional statistics - the information given on this page is the only data I am able to release, in order to avoid jeopardising medical publications that are planned.
Injury location by snowsport
Injury type by snowsport
All individuals who attend the ski patrol services at a Scottish ski area after sustaining an on-slope injury are included in the study. Non-traumatic episodes are excluded. Individuals who present directly to the Aviemore Medical Practice after sustaining an injury at the Cairngorm ski area are also included - as this health centre is well known for providing medical services to ski and mountain casualties. Details relating to personal demographics and various snow-sports parameters are recorded. Those individuals whose final diagnosis is unclear are identified. Control data are collected by conducting face-to-face interviews with uninjured skiers, snowboarders and skiboarders. These interviews are performed on a variety of times and days and in varied locations in order to reduce the likelihood of selection bias. A separate series of random manual counts are conducted to determine the percentage distribution of skiers, snowboarders, skiboarders and telemarkers amongst the total piste population.
All ski areas provide their skier day numbers for the season, calculated from total ticket sales and/or lift statistics.
An overall injury rate is then calculated in terms of injuries per thousand skier days (IPTSD) where:
IPTSD = Total number of injuries/Total number of skier days x 1000
The incidence of a specific injury (for example, a wrist fracture) however, is best expressed in terms of ‘mean days between injury’ (MDBI), where:
MDBI = Total Number of skier days / Total number of the specific injury seen
The skier days total for each sport was derived as follows:
Total skier days x Percentage distribution*
(*for the sport in question)
The study has been approved by the NHS Highland Local Research Ethics Committee.
The study now has data on nearly 6500 individuals (split as in the table below), more than half of whom are cases. [Without meaning to insult anyone's intelligence, cases are those people who were injured and controls are uninjured people who were asked the same questions as injured people to act as a comparison]. You can find more details on injury studies and how they are carried out by clicking here.
The current injury rate in Scotland is 2.24 injuries per 1000 skier days (for skier, read all snow sports). This means that for every 1000 people out at a ski area in Scotland, on average just over 2 people will sustain an injury that requires medical attention. In terms of mean days between injury (MDBI) - the figure is one injury every 447 days. In other words, on an individual basis, you would have to ski, snowboard or skiboard in Scotland for 447 days on average before you sustained an injury. From now on, telemark skiers and ski mountaineers have been dropped from further analysis due to the small numbers involved.
We collect information from both our injured individuals and our uninjured controls relating to age, gender, previous experience, use of lessons and ski or snowboarding time in the current season. The majority of those injured are male in each equipment group. However, as the chart below demonstrates, generally speaking there are more males than females participating in each snow sport.
The following charts provide the information gleaned regarding other parameters. The under 17's are generally over-represented in all snow sports, especially skiing and snowboarding. we have consistently shown that children are at a higher risk of injury than adults. This may be due to deficiencies in equipment and the fact that most kids have little fear of injury! I hope to publish a paper on children's injuries early in 2009.
Those on their very first day's experience (first day participants) have also been shown to be more likely to be injured than others on the slope. In the graph below, you can see that FDPs make up a far larger % of the injured population than in the uninjured population. For more information, you can read our paper on this topic from the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The graphs below show by % the six main areas of injury for alpine skiing, snowboarding and skiboarding.
Snowboarding and skiboarding have the highest rates of fractures (broken bones). Alpine skiing and skiboarding have high numbers of ligament injuries (sprains), many of these affecting the knee joint. Very few skiboarders sustain joint injuries (e.g. dislocated shoulders).