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397 Snowmobile-related injuries in U.S. Emergency Departments 2001–2013
  1. Christopher Peterson,
  2. Charles Jennissen
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, USA


Background Snowmobiling is a popular form of winter recreation, but adverse events can lead to significant injury. Our objective was to determine the demographics and risk factors for snowmobile-related injuries seen in Emergency Departments (EDs).

Methods ED visits related to snowmobile operation were identified in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database, which collects information from a national probability sample of U.S. hospitals. Descriptive and statistical analyses were performed.

Results From 2002–2013, 1,944 snowmobile-related injuries were identified in the NEISS database. This corresponds to a national estimate of 135,032 snowmobile-related ED visits during the study period. There was a trend of decreasing injuries over time with a national estimate of 12,862 in 2002 and 9,270 in 2013 (average decrease of 499 per year, 95% CI: 89.9–907.7). Most commonly injured were 19–29 year olds, accounting for 30% of the total; 19% were paediatric patients. About three-fourths were male. The most common mechanisms of injury involved falling off (22%), striking a stationary object (16%), and rolling the vehicle (13%). Mechanisms that had the greatest admission rates included events involving a drop-off (50%), ejections (25%) and motorised vehicle collisions (22%). Helmets were reported as being used in 11.4%. Patients wearing a helmet had a 63% reduced odds of requiring inpatient admission compared to those without (p = 0.03). Speed was reported in only 7% of cases. A higher proportion of those operating at speeds estimated ≥35 mph were admitted (24%) as compared to those with lower speeds (15%).

Conclusions Snowmobilers without helmets were more likely to require hospital admission. Snowmobilers should be especially wary of terrain changes, other vehicles in the area, and being ejected, as these mechanisms had injuries requiring higher rates of inpatient treatment.

  • snowmobiles
  • emergency departments
  • helmets
  • recreation

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