The epidemiology of skiing injuries in Antarctica

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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 nontrivial (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 nontrivial injury raises important management issues, particularly as the majority (81%) were recreational.




Cattermole, T. J. (1999). The epidemiology of skiing injuries in Antarctica. Injury, 30(7), 491–495.

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