Injuries to Individuals Participating in Mountain and Wilderness Sports: A review

Alasdair Mort, David Godden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: The objective of this review is to summarize evidence on injuries occurring in individuals participating in mountain and wilderness sports.
Data Sources: SCOPUS, ISI Web of Knowledge, SPORTDiscus, OVID Safety and Health, Index to Theses, COPAC, and SportScotland e-library. The search terms were (mountain* or wilderness or adventure or climb* or (hill walk*)) and (accident* or injur* or rescue*) and (epidemiolog* or statistic* or pattern* or survey*). The search period was from 1987 to 2010.
Study Selection: A total of 2034 articles were identified. The full text of 137 articles was retrieved. Fifty articles met inclusion criteria — mountain and wilderness; nonmotorized, leisure time, outdoor activities; and nonfatal injury. Skiing and snowboarding articles were excluded.
Data Extraction: Study design was classified using the “STOX” hierarchy of evidence. Study quality was rated independently by 2 reviewers.
Data Synthesis: All studies were observational. Twenty-one (42%) were longitudinal, 20 (40%) were cross-sectional surveys, and 9 were cohort studies. A majority of casualties were aged 20 to 39 years. There was a clear male majority, 70% to 89% in most studies. The percentage of casualties who sustained severe injuries ranged from 5% to 10% — less than 10% were admitted to hospital. Casualties sustained an average of 1.2 to 2.8 injuries (most > 1.6), which mainly affected the soft tissues; between 2% and 38% were fractures. Up to 90% of injuries were to the extremities.
Conclusions: The majority of mountain and wilderness sports injuries are minor to moderate. However, some casualties have life-threatening medical problems, which may have long-term implications for return to sport and general well-being.
Key Words: mountain, wilderness, injury
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-536
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • mountain
  • wilderness
  • injury


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