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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 Jun 16

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.12578-2


language: English

The epidemiology of indoor and outdoor rock climbing injuries presenting to United States emergency departments

Ramsey S. SABBAGH , Connor HOGE, Arun P. KANHERE, Atticus C. COSCIA, Brian M. GRAWE

Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA


BACKGROUND: The popularity of both indoor and outdoor rock climbing has dramatically increased over the last decade. The purpose of this study is to evaluate trends in United States climbing injury rates as well as assess specific injury characteristics, especially in the context of indoor and outdoor climbing.
METHODS: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database was queried (2010-2019) to compare national weighted injury estimates and compare various injury characteristics from climbers presenting to US emergency departments.
RESULTS: The annual national estimates of rock climbing-related injuries presenting to US emergency rooms increased significantly (p=0.030) from 2010 (N=2,381; CI 1,085-3,676) to 2019 (N= 4,596; CI 492-8,699). 58.7% of the injuries in this study that could be classified by location occurred climbing outdoors. Ankle injuries were 2.25 times more likely (CI 1.03-3.08) to occur indoors than outdoors. Outdoor climbers were 2.25 times more likely to sustain an injury via falling and 13.8 times more likely to be injured by being struck by an object than indoor climbers (CI 1.05-2.42, CI 10.67-17.78).
CONCLUSIONS: Indoor and outdoor rock climbing are associated with different injury characteristics and risks. Therefore proper safety precautions, equipment, and training specific to terrain should be observed by all climbers in order to help decrease the rising trend of rock climbing-related injuries in the United States.

KEY WORDS: Injuries; Athletics; Sports; Wounds and injuries; Wounds

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