Objectives To evaluate the incidence of snow-sports-related head injuries among children and adolescents reported to emergency departments (EDs), and to examine the trend from 1996 to 2010 in ED visits for snow-sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) among children and adolescents.
Methods A retrospective, population-based cohort study was conducted using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for patients (aged ≤17 years) treated in EDs in the USA from 1996 to 2010, for TBIs associated with snow sports (defined as skiing or snowboarding). National estimates of snow sports participation were obtained from the National Ski Area Association and utilised to calculate incidence rates. Analyses were conducted separately for children (aged 4–12 years) and adolescents (aged 13–17 years).
Results An estimated number of 78 538 (95% CI 66 350 to 90 727) snow sports-related head injuries among children and adolescents were treated in EDs during the 14-year study period. Among these, 77.2% were TBIs (intracranial injury, concussion or fracture). The annual average incidence rate of TBI was 2.24 per 10 000 resort visits for children compared with 3.13 per 10 000 visits for adolescents. The incidence of TBI increased from 1996 to 2010 among adolescents (p<0.003).
Conclusions Given the increasing incidence of TBI among adolescents and the increased recognition of the importance of concussions, greater awareness efforts may be needed to ensure safety, especially helmet use, as youth engage in snow sports.
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