Skiers hurt twice as often as reported |

Skiers hurt twice as often as reported

Nick Isenberg

A new study from Johns Hopkins University suggests that skiers might be injured twice as often as anyone has reported.

Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Jeffery A. Hadley reports that his recent study indicates that ski area statistics include only about 45 percent of the actual skier injuries.

The flaw in past studies, said Hadley, is that ski areas can only report the injuries that involve ski patrol assistance or visits to first aid rooms and clinics at the ski areas.

That certainly would include almost all the serious injuries, but, reported Hadley, those statistics do not include a large number of injuries that do require a doctor’s care.

According to Hadley’s study, “Only 45 percent of injuries serious enough to be treated by a doctor were actually seen by the ski patrol first. Twenty-two percent were seen at nearby hospitals and the remaining 22 percent were treated by physicians `back home.’ “

Most of those unreported injuries involve strains and sprains, but Hadley did find a number of skiers who suffered broken bones but still made it off the mountain and found medical help on their own.

Hadley’s study also contradicted the long-held belief that most ski injuries are suffered by aggressive young male skiers. Those skiers may suffer the most serious injuries, but, according to Hadley, a greater number of injuries occur among expert women skiers and, in general, older skiers.

Hadley recruited study subjects on ski-oriented Web sites and with an article in Skiing Magazine.

Hadley’s conclusion – that skiing is more dangerous than anyone has suspected – is understandably not popular with ski area officials.

The Aspen Skiing Co.’s Rose Abello said she wasn’t familiar enough with Dr. Hadley’s study to be able to comment on it.

However, Colorado Ski Country USA communications director Barb Jennings did have a reaction to Hadley’s findings. She said, “I see a lot of problems with this study. This is more of a study of what you can do on the Internet than a ski injuries study. …

“Nine hundred and two people participated in this study. Last year there were 54 million skier visits nationally. I don’t think you can extrapolate that figure to get any kind of reliable data about the incidents of ski injuries,” Jennings said.

For a full report of Hadley’s ski injury study, see this afternoon’s Aspen Times Weekly Edition.

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