Orthopaedic injuries from snowmobile accidents: a multi-centre analysis of demographics, injury patterns, and outcomes

  • Paul WhitingEmail author
  • Christopher Rice
  • Alexander Siy
  • Benjamin Wiseley
  • Natasha Simske
  • Richard Berg
  • Madeline Lockhart
  • Abbey Debruin
  • David Polga
  • Christopher Doro
  • David Goodspeed
  • Gerald Lang
Original Article • EMERGENCY - TRAUMA



More than 2 million people in North America use snowmobiles, resulting in an estimated 200 fatalities and 14,000 injuries annually. The purpose of this study is to document the demographics, orthopaedic injury patterns, and short-term outcomes of patients with snowmobile-related injuries.

Materials and methods

A retrospective review was performed at two regional trauma centres in a region where snowmobile use is prevalent. Patients who sustained snowmobile-related injuries over a 12-year period were identified from the hospitals’ trauma registries using E-codes (E820-E820.9). Patient demographics were recorded, as were injury characteristics including rates of substance use, open fractures, Injury Severity Score (ISS), Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) for the extremities, and mortality. Rates of inpatient surgery, as well as hospital and ICU length of stay (LOS), were also recorded.


We identified 528 patients with snowmobile-related injuries. Average age was 37 years, and 418 patients (79%) were male. Eighty-eight per cent of all patients with snowmobile injuries were admitted to the hospital with an average LOS of 5.7 days. Among those admitted to the hospital, average ISS was 12.3, and 28% of these patients had ISS > 15. A total of 261 patients (56%) suffered extremity injuries (including 163 upper and 173 lower extremity fractures) with an average extremity AIS of 2.4. There were 700 total fractures (1.5 per patient), and 9% of all fractures were open. A total of 208 patients (45%) suffered head injuries, and 132 patients (28%) sustained vertebral column fractures. A total of 201 patients (43%) required inpatient surgery, and eight patients (1.7%) sustained fatal injuries.


We present a detailed multi-centre analysis of orthopaedic injury patterns and outcomes resulting from snowmobile-related injuries. Patients injured while snowmobiling share similar injury patterns with patients injured in motorcycle and other high-energy motor vehicle accidents.


Snowmobile Orthopaedic trauma Extremity injury Fracture 



The authors wish to acknowledge the Wisconsin Network for Healthcare Research (WiNHR) and the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) for their assistance with this study.


This project was supported by the Wisconsin Network for Healthcare Research (WiNHR) and the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) who are financially supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) programme, through the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), grant UL1TR002373. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

David Goodspeed, M.D. is a paid consultant for Synthes. All other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and animal rights

Institutional review board approval was granted for this work. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Whiting
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Rice
    • 1
  • Alexander Siy
    • 1
  • Benjamin Wiseley
    • 1
  • Natasha Simske
    • 1
  • Richard Berg
    • 2
  • Madeline Lockhart
    • 1
  • Abbey Debruin
    • 1
  • David Polga
    • 2
  • Christopher Doro
    • 1
  • David Goodspeed
    • 1
  • Gerald Lang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedics and RehabilitationUniversity of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public HealthMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Marshfield Medical CenterMarshfieldUSA

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