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Characteristics of bouldering injuries based on 430 patients presented to an urban emergency department

Published:February 05, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2022.02.003

      Highlights

      • The five most commonly injured anatomical regions in acute bouldering accidents are the ankle, knee, elbow, spine and shoulder.
      • Especially unexperienced athletes and patients with more severe injuries often quit bouldering after an acute bouldering injury.
      • Injuries to the lower extremity are common among the acute injuries of our population wherease chronic injuries typically affect the upper extremity more often.

      Abstract

      Introduction

      Bouldering is a climbing sport that has been attracting a greater number of recreational and professional athletes over recent decades, which has led to an increase in sport-related injuries. The aim of this study was to determine the characteristics and the types of acute injuries caused by bouldering. Further athlete-specific factors and covariates for the trauma types were investigated.

      Materials and methods

      In this retrospective analysis, all patients presented to the level 1 trauma center at the hospital of the Technical University of Munich after an acute trauma related to bouldering were identified via the hospital documentation system. The period of observation was ten years, from 2010 until 2020. Epidemiological and injury-specific information as well as the initial treatment were registered. In a second step, the affected patients were invited to participate in an online survey in order to collect information about their skills, experience, and details about the trauma.

      Results

      A total of 430 patients with 447 acute injuries were identified. There were 244 injuries among female and 203 injuries among male patients. The most common anatomical region affected was ankle (36.7%), knee (16.8%), elbow (12.3%), spine (7.2%) and shoulder (6.3%). The majority of 273 (61.1%) injuries were located at the lower extremities. The most frequent types of injury were sprains (53.0%), fractures (22.8%) or joint dislocations (11.9%). Surgical treatment was necessary for 89 (19.9%) patients. A return to bouldering was more likely in male patients 50 (75.8%) than in females 47 (59.5%) (p = 0.038). Subjectively, inexperienced boulderers were also less likely to return to the sport than advanced boulderers with greater experience (p = 0.001)

      Conclusion

      The incidence of bouldering injuries is rising. Typical bouldering injuries could be identified and quantified at least for those patients who were presented to a hospital emergency department. Injuries in this setting do differ from the injury types known from rock climbing injuries as they are located on the lower extremity more often. Injuries of the fingers and hand, which are common climbing injuries, have been barely encountered in the emergency center.

      Keywords

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