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Indexed/Abstracted in: Chemical Abstracts, CINAHL, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,111
Online ISSN 1827-1928
Ashford D. A. 1, Knutson R. S. 2, Sacks J. J. 3
1 Epidemiology Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Department of Health and Human Services, US Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia;
2 National Speleological Society, Huntsville, AL;
3 Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, US Department of Health and Human Services, US Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Background. To estimate the frequency of and risk factors for caving-associated injuries.
Methods. A standardized questionnaire covering demographics, caving exposure, and injury history was distributed to all members of the National Speleological Society by inclusion in the monthly newsletter.
Results. Of 9,532 members sent a questionnaire, 301 responded (3.2%). Respondents had an average of 18 years of caving experience, and 37% had sustained one or more injuries while caving. Hypothermia was the most frequent injury, followed by fractures, animal bites, and concussions. The rate of injury was about 1 per 1,990 hours in a cave. Injury rates for females were about twice those of males; older persons and those with more than 5 years of caving experience seemed to have lower injury rates.
Conclusions. Many caving injuries appear potentially preventable. Proper technique for safe climbing should be a part of exploration training. There is a need for proper belaying or rappelling for even short ascents or descents. Helmet use should be stressed, as should adequate protection from hypothermia.