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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 21-January-2011, Vol 124 No 1328

[full text] [PDF]

Serious ski and snowboard injuries in southern New Zealand requiring acute orthopaedic admission and treatment during winter 2009
A Gordon Burgess, Ridzwan Namazie


The aims of this study were to report on ski and snowboard injuries which required in-patient assessment and treatment, by investigating demographics, complexity and cost.

A prospective study investigating the pattern of ski and snowboard injuries admitted to the Orthopaedic Department of Southland Hospital (Invercargill) during 2009. Patient demographics, injury characteristics, treatment and financial implications have all been examined.

88 patients were admitted with 92 injuries over 129 days. Thirty-six skiers sustained 37 injuries compared to 55 injuries in 52 snowboarders. The median age of skiers was 32.5 years compared to 26 years for snowboarders, which represented a statistically significant difference. Thirty-two admissions were visitors from Australia, compared to 29 from New Zealand and 14 from Great Britain and Ireland. Fifty-two patients (59.1%) were transported to Invercargill by ambulance compared to 13 (14.8%) by helicopter. Twenty-five ski-related injuries were treated operatively (67.5%) compared with 37 snowboard-related injuries (67.3%). Twenty-three patients (26%) were admitted with spinal injuries including one C5 burst fracture which was ultimately fatal. A total of 124.46 case weights were generated by all 88 admissions representing a cost of almost $500,000.

Ski and snowboard injuries represent a significant workload and financial burden to a typical mid-sized district general hospital in New Zealand. There is little published data on the natural history of serious orthopaedic injuries related to skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand.

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