Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mountain bike-related injuries down 56%

A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found the number of mountain bike-related injuries decreased 56 percent over the 14-year study period (1994 to 2007) – going from a high of more than 23,000 injuries in 1995 to just over 10,000 injuries in 2007.

“The large decline we found in mountain bike-related injuries is likely due to a combination of factors,” said Lara McKenzie, PhD, MA, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “While some of the decline may be explained by a decrease in the number of people riding mountain bikes, there have also been a number of improvements to the bicycle design, such as disc brakes and dual-suspension systems, that give the rider greater control of the bike and may help to reduce the incidence of injuries.”

I'll offer two other possible reasons why there's been such a sharp decline in bike related injuries:

1) Mountain biking was relatively new in the mid-90s as a mass appeal sport. I would suggest that basic mountain biking skills have likely gotten better since that time period.

2) I would also argue that many mountain bike riders have moved away from riding on the more rugged trails, and onto to smoother surfaces, including paved roads and trails, thus minimizing many of dangerous situations encountered on backcountry trails.

According to the study, appearing in the February 2011 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the most frequent diagnoses were fractures (27 percent), soft tissue injuries (24 percent) and lacerations (21 percent), while the most commonly injured body parts were the upper extremities (27 percent), shoulder and clavicle (20 percent) and the lower extremities (20 percent). Falls (70 percent) or being thrown off the bike (14 percent) were the most common mechanisms of injury.

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