BOULDER, Colo. — Sports are the third highest contributor to cervical spine injuries, with extreme sports posing the most significant risk to athletes, according to a speaker here.
Although athletes are more likely to experience an acute spinal injury playing football, sports such as mountain biking and skiing also have a high risk for spine injuries, particularly to the cervical spine.
“Specifically looking at mountain biking, about 74% of injuries occur in the cervical spine and 82% of these were in the lower cervical spine, from C3 to C7,” Christopher “C.J.” Kleck, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor of orthopedics at University of Colorado School of Medicine, said at the International Extreme Sports Medicine Annual Congress.
Citing a study, Kleck said 76% of the injuries occurred when riders went “over the bars,” and 91% involved direct impact.
In skiing, Kleck said the rates of spinal cord injuries are reported more often, with an injury rate of .01% to .075% for every 1,000 hours of skiing. For professional skiers, that rate can rise to .1% for every 1,000 hours.
“You see a 3% to 15% rate of head and spinal injuries in these patients. Looking at the rates of spine injuries in skiing athletes, they saw cervical spine injuries in 41%, and the spinal cord injury rate was about 1%,” Kleck said.
Reference: Kleck C. Spine Injuries in the Extreme Sports Athlete. Presented at: International Extreme Sports Medicine Annual Congress; June 13-14, 2014; Boulder, Colo.
Disclosure: Kleck has no relevant financial disclosures.