Date of Conferral





Public Health


Rebecca Heick


Throughout the relevant literature, research addressing the impact of a specific environmental factor, such as snowfall, on injury patterns or severity among alpine skiers and snowboarders is sparse. The foundation for inquiry into this relationship was developed based on principles of physics and traumatology coupled with findings in the available literature. Secondary analysis of trauma registry data coupled with daily snowfall measurements from one of the largest ski areas in North America illustrated a negative correlation between daily snowfall amount and injury severity (r = -.08). Concordant findings demonstrated an increased odds of sustaining an injury defined as severe or critical according to Injury Severity Score (ISS) classification when there was less than two inches of fresh snowfall (OR = 3.9; 95% CI[1.06, 16.69]). Additionally, utilizing the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS), a regional anatomical finding illustrated that in the absence of recent snowfall, there was an increased odds of sustaining a thoracic injury defined as severe in this patient population (OR = 10.4; 95% CI[1.62, 66.9]). Secondary research considerations detailed the variances in injury severity resulting from a collision when compared to a fall and the predilection for skiers to sustain increased lower extremity injuries when compared to snowboarders. Findings from this project may lead to positive social change as the increased understanding of predictive factors contributing to injury can be directly applied to further the current understanding of trauma care in this patient population. The benefits from this work may also extend to the public health arena through enhanced educational opportunities for skiers and snowboarders as well as enhanced resort safety initiatives tailored to the ambient conditions.