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Risk Of Serious Injury From Parasports

Media Release


The magnitude of serious injury from parasports (parachuting, skydiving, paragliding, parapenting, parascending, parasailing and hang-gliding) is greater than previously believed, a new study has found.

The report, by Dr Grant Christey, former Trauma Fellow at Auckland City Hospital and now lecturer in trauma at the University of New South Wales and trauma and general surgeon at Liverpool Hospital, is published in the latest issue of Emergency Medicine Australasia, the journal of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.

“New Zealand is recognized as a prime destination for outdoor adventure sports. The participation rates and incidence of serious injury are unknown.” he said.

Dr Christey used the Auckland City Hospital Trauma Registry to identify all patients requiring admission to Auckland City Hospital with serious injury as a result of parasport incidents over an eight-year period.

Thirty-eight victims of parasport injury were identified. Their mean age was 36, and 95% were men.

The parasports causing injury were parachuting/skydiving (66%) and paragliding/parapenting (34%).

No injuries were recorded for parasailing or hang-gliding.

Heavy landings accounted for 58% (22/38) of all incidents, followed by mechanical failure (13% 5/38), turbulence (13% 5/38), landing on hostile ground (10% 4/38), and pilot error prior to final approach (5% 2/38).

Two incidents occurred while tandem jumping.

Parasports may involve rapid deceleration on landing, Dr Christey said, so fractures of the lower limbs and lumbar spine were the predominant injuries.

Misjudgement of landing speed and attitude resulting in injurious landing forces were the usual causes of injury.

Dr Christey said appropriate use of protective clothing and close attention to safe flight planning and landing techniques may reduce the injury rate without degrading the experience of flight.

“Parasports can be made safer without diminishing the excitement of flight and the perception of risk that is attractive to those who engage in these sports.”


Issued for the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine by Marilyn Bitomsky, Impact Promotions & Publications

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