Correlative study into injury epidemiology, use of protective equipment and risk-taking among adolescent participants in alpine snow sport

  • Nadine Cooper

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Risk taking and sensation seeking are common daily phenomena that every person experiences to some degree. Sensation seeking behaviours have been found to be common among those engaging in activities such as mountaineering, deep sea diving, skiing and snowboarding. All of which may be considered relatively high-risk activities for accidental injury. Risk-taking behavioural characteristics have been identified as a possible explanation for the higher incidence of snowsport injuries. These snowsports attract a proportion of the population, including many children and adolescents, who have been introduced to the sport through school-sponsored ski programs and local community clubs. The number of children and adolescents participating in snow sports continues to rise and therefore it is important to have snow safe programs implemented within ski resorts and in place in schools participating in alpine sports programs. In Australia, New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Interschool Snowsports entries have increased by more than threefold since 2001,from 465 entries in 2001 to 1452 entries in 2007. In line with this increase in participation, the occurrence of alpine injuries may have increased substantially, which is not only a problem for the participating groups, but also represents a potential public health issue. An exploratory questionnaire based study of Southern NSW and ACT Interschools Alpine Racing Teams was conducted during the 2007 winter season. Prior to this a pilot study was conducted in the 2006 winter season to test the reliability of the questionnaire. The aim of the study was to analyse and evaluate the effects of the combined psychological characteristics of risk-taking and sensation seeking on injuries sustained. A second purpose of the study was to quantify the protective equipment habits and attitudes of secondary school participants. The rationale behind the study incorporates the benefits of having greater knowledge of higher risk taking groups and how they relate to injury. The results of the study can be used to design and employ more appropriate training, risk management and injury prevention programs within the Interschool participants. There were 345 participants (four excluded from data analysis) who undertook the questionnaire. Participants’ ages ranged from 10-18 years old, with a mean of 14 years of age. Alpine skiing accounted for 58.3% of the participants, snowboarding 25.4% and 16.3% cross-country. Of the 341 participants analysed,116 suffered alpine snowsport injuries. Of these,22 males and 20 females participates sustained two or more injuries, with one participant being injured 11 times. There were a total of 208 injuries amongst the 116 participants who suffered alpine snowsport injuries. Of those injured,63.6% were injured while free skiing or snowboarding,18.5% during training and 17.9% while racing. Of the participants’ injuries 40.0% were sustained while skiing with friends,21.5% skiing with family,26.2% with a coach and 11.9% skiing alone. The most common area injured was the knee, which accounted for approximately 21.3% of all injuries. This was followed by wrist fractures, which resulted in 14.7% of injuries. The third most common area to be injured was the head (including two fractured cheek bones, and two face lacerations),with 22 injuries that accounted for 10.4% of all injuries. There was a gender differences in the anatomical areas injured, with males sustaining more head and face injuries, and having a greater frequency of fractured wrists and a significantly higher proportion of knee injuries than females, with approximately two-thirds of all knee injuries (66.7%) being suffered by males. Females sustained more shoulder dislocations (52.4%) and fractured humerus than males and a significantly higher frequency of thigh muscle injuries (88.9%) than males. Overall, males had a slightly higher frequency of injuries than females, but there were no significant differences between the two. There was an average of 0.61 injuries per person or broken down my gender, males had an average 0.63 injuries and females an average of 0.57. From the results there appears to be a direct and significant relationship between risk taking scores and alpine injuries. The higher individual scores in risk taking and sensation seeking, the more likely he or she was to have sustained an injury.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTracey Dickson (Supervisor) & Helen Ayres (Supervisor)

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