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Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31824bd53a
Original Research

The Epidemiology of Severe and Catastrophic Injuries in BASE Jumping

Mei-Dan, Omer MD*; Carmont, Michael R. MBBS; Monasterio, Erik MBChB

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Objective: To report the demographic characteristics, injury rate, severity, and morbidity in BASE jumping.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: BASE jumping group meetings from 2006 to 2010.

Participants: Heterogenic group of 102 International BASE jumpers.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Injuries reported as function of jumps made, jumping days, age, experience, and sex.

Main Outcome Measures: Incidence, severity, and type of injuries.

Results: Responses from 68 subjects were available for analysis. The median number of jumps was estimated at 286 per respondent. The median time respondents had participated in BASE jumping was 5.8 years. There were 39 reported severe injuries sustained by 29 different jumpers. Nineteen thousand four hundred ninety-seven jumps were reported, resulting in 2 severe injuries per 1000 jumps (0.2% severe injury rate) or 2.6 severe injuries per 1000 jumping days. Forty-nine respondents (72%) had witnessed the death or serious injury of other participants in the sport. Twenty-four accidents (61%) involved the lower limbs, 8 (20%) the back/spine, 7 (18%) the chest wall, and 5 (13%) were a head injury. The mean Abbreviated Injury Score was 3.2 (range, 2-5). Fifteen (52%) of the 29 injured jumpers required 20 acute surgical interventions, which were mostly orthopedic related. There was a significant correlation between number of jumps made and injuries sustained (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: BASE jumpers have an average of 1 severe injury for every 500 jumps. Most active BASE jumpers have witnessed death or severe injury of a participant and have experienced a “close call” incident.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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