Head injury prevention in alpine skiing and snowboarding: critical review of literature and analysis of NZ snow sports injury epidemiology – technical report for the coroner’s office
Objective To inform the Coroner’s inquest into alpine skiing and snowboarding fatalities regarding the magnitude of the head injury problem in alpine skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand, and evidence for helmets as an injury prevention strategy. Methods Searches of Pubmed, Medline, and SportDiscus literature databases were performed for studies related to alpine skiing injuries published in English. The computer databases provided access to sports-oriented and biomedical journals, serial publications, books, theses, conference papers and related research published since the inception of the International Society of Skiing Safety in 1974. Literature was extracted by one systematic reviewer using key words alpine skiing, snowboarding, protective equipment, helmets, epidemiology, head injury, neck injury, fatality, and death. ACC injury data Injury data including free text descriptors of mechanics of injury were obtained for snow sport ACC claims from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2008 to enable comparisons with international data reported in the literature. Injuries were categorised by diagnosis (e.g., fracture/dislocation, soft tissue injury) for alpine skiing and snowboarding. NID injury data Injury data were also obtained for snow sport injuries during 2005 to 2009 from the National Incident data base (NID) utilised by all NZ commercial ski areas and managed by the NZ Mountain Safety Council.