Caroline Adams

19/05/17 International Society for Skiing Safety Congress (ISSS)

Funds were used to cover the costs of transportation, conferences fees and a portion of accommodation costs.

The ISSS is a multidisciplinary conference bringing together international experts in the fields of: medicine; engineering; sports science; and ski tourism, to enhance the safety of winter sports through scientific research. In April experts from all around the globe gathered at the sport science faculty at the University of Innsbruck. The main themes of the conference were epidemiology of winter sports injuries; ski racing; avalanches; health aspects of skiing; head injuries, knee injuries; equipment; biomechanics and ski bindings. Whilst the conference is multidisciplinary at least a third if not more of the presentations constituted sports engineering.

I presented a study I have completed during my PhD on the design of surrogates to mechanically test snowboarding wrist protectors. It was interesting to see the complementary approaches being taken by different research institutions and have the opportunity to receive feedback on my work. Positive discussions were had with other researchers both concerning mechanical testing and the potential to influence behavioural practice and track the impact of a prevention once an ISO standard has been established. Chloe Newton Mann who is supporting the wrist protection work through FEA simiulation also had the opportunity to present her early work and proposed approach.

The use of equipment as a means of injury prevention was discussed throughout the conference. A change in ski binding design has resulted in a drop in tibia fractures but the number of ACL injuries has increased. This highlighted the importance of taking into consideration the full chain of the human body when implementing changes. Another intervention discussed at length was despite the increase in helmet use across resorts up to 97% in some countries the rate of head injuries doesn’t reflect this change in behaviour. Given the prevalence of these injuries it appears that sports engineers in collaboration with resorts, clinicians and manufacturers have a responsibility to better understand the mechanism of injury and aid the design, development and testing of improved products. This could in time lead to changes in policy and a revision to the helmet standard. A number of innovative approaches are being taken to better understand these injury scenarios and develop representative tests.