The combination of over 300 days of sunshine and the popularity of outdoor activities, makes for a very healthy and fit population in Colorado. This, along with job opportunity, is one of the top drivers of growth, and why the state expanded nearly 15% between 2010 and 2020. This was among the highest in the nation.
Expectedly, Coloradans prefer skiing as the most popular outdoor activity. Cycling is 4th and snowboarding is 7th. One in 6 residents show interest in skiing. This is pretty amazing, considering skiing is expensive and requires a reasonable amount of skill. Anyone can go for a hike on a trial or survive a night in a tent, yet hiking is rated 3rd and camping 5th.
Unfortunately, skiing and cycling can be fairly dangerous activities. It wasn’t but about a year ago I personally witnessed a cyclist crossing a busy Denver street get plowed by a distracted driver. For this reason alone, I now choose to avoid exercise on the roads of my neighborhood.
Traumatic spinal injury in adults risks significant neurologic deficit. Neurological recovery depends not only on injury severity but mechanism. The most common cause of traumatic injury is road accidents and falls.
A recent study was performed classifying the etiology of adult injuries in the US. Over 80,000 cases of adult sports-related trauma were included, and 12,000 involved the spine. Interestingly, the average age was 48-years-old, which is older than most adults presenting with sports-related injury. The top mechanisms were cycling (80.9%) and skiing/ snow-boarding (11.6%). Overall, most cycling injuries could be traced back to motor vehicle accidents (81%). Basically, these were cyclists hit by cars. The ski/ snowboarding accidents were likely related to falls.
Patient’s with traumatic spinal injury also suffered traumatic brain injury about 38.5% of the time, and lower extremity injury 38.8% of the time.
The most common form of spine injury was vertebral fracture, which occurred most commonly in the cervical region.
In comparison to non-sports-related spine injuries, patients with sports-related were significantly more likely to require intensive care unit (ICU) admission. 17.1% of patients require transfer to another hospital for more advanced care, discharge to a rehab facility. Or discharge home with rehab.
Although many cities, including Denver, with a high volume of vehicle traffic highlight helmets and bike-lane safety measures, there is still significant risk in these city-riding. The same is true of helmets and other precautions in skiing/ snowboarding. It is important for our outdoorsy community to maintain safety precautions, but also remember injury may not be avoidable by their on cognizance, but induced by others.