The Aspen Times published an article this week which provides an interesting study of ski accident numbers. The trauma team at Aspen Valley Hospital handled 127 cases in December and January where the injuries were severe enough to admit the person to the hospital for treatment or send the person to another facility for emergency care, according to the statistics compiled by trauma team.

That is up from 110 trauma cases in December and January last season an increase of 17 cases or 15 percent. For December, the number of injuries was up by 9 in 2014 over December 2013 and up 8 in January 2015 over January 2014.

These trauma cases do not count the accidents where a skier or rider comes to the emergency room for treatment, then is sent home. So most knee or wrist injuries are not included.

There were 11 cases of broken ribs the first full months of this season compared to only four last season. There were six torso injuries this season compared to two last season over the same period. But most cases seen by the AVH trauma team are broken bones in legs and arms. The team treated 81 breaks in December and January this season compared to 74 for the same months last season.

Closed head injuries were similar over the two seasons with 14 in 2014-15 and 12 the prior season. There were 8 spine injuries this season compared to six last season during December and January, and there were three pelvic injuries this season and five last season.

AVH transferred 12 patients to other facilities in December and January, according to their records. There were nine transfers in December and January the prior season. Transfers often involve brain or spine injuries.

Many skiers and riders are traveling at speeds from 20 to 50 mph when they take a hard fall or collide with another skier or an object. The trauma team treat a lot of tibia-fibula fractures among skiers and a lot of broken wrists and arms among riders who attempted to break their fall. One of the team members, Dr. Joe Livengood, observes that “by far the worst is skier versus skier.”

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