What are the risks of injury while surfing? As the swell of tropical storms Gaston and Hermine are hitting the East Coast, New York surfers are getting amped-up by possible big waves coming for this Labor Day week-end. But is it dangerous?
A recent study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine says no. The study entitled “Surfing USA: an epidemiological study of surfing injuries presenting to US EDs 2002 to 2013” was conducted by Cole Klick, MD, Courtney M.C. Jones, PHD, MPH and David Hadler, MD, MPH from the Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester – Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY, USA. They analysed 12 years of data related to surf accidents and injury in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. They came to the conclusion that surfers do get hurt very often but the injuries are rarely serious.
Among the 2,072 cases analyzed, 41% of the injuries were lacerations, 14% were sprains and strains, 13% were contusions and 12% were fractures. Hospital admission rates were extremely low with 96% of the injured surfers visiting the ER being released after treatment. While the median age of injured surfers showing up at the ER was 27 years old, the study shows that older surfers above 60 were the ones at risk of being admitted for trunk injuries or internal organ injuries. Body parts most often injured were lower extremities, face, head and neck.
According to an article in Surfline.com, an average 55% of the surfing injuries are caused by the impact with the surfboard, 18% are caused by the impact with the ocean floor and 11% by a collision with another surfer. The most dangerous parts of the surfboard are the fins. 41% of the injuries caused by an impact with the surfboard come from the fins while 21% of them come from the rails and 14% from the nose. Surfline also reports that the surfers the most at risk of being injured are the experts and the beginners.
So if your are planing to go surfing this weekend please be careful. If you are an advanced surfer don’t take exaggerated risks and if you just began do not overestimate your capacity and stay on the beach if it is getting too rough out there.