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The epidemiology of horse-related injuries for different horse exposures, activities, and age groups in Queensland, Australia

Lang, Jacelle MSc, BSc(Hons); Sathivelu, Maria MBBS; Tetsworth, Kevin MD; Pollard, Cliff MBBS; Harvey, Kathy; Bellamy, Nicholas MD, MSc, DSc, MBA

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: January 2014 - Volume 76 - Issue 1 - p 205–212
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182a9007e
Original Articles

BACKGROUND: The dangers associated with horse riding, a popular activity throughout Australia, are well documented; yet, few studies have comprehensively described injuries caused by horses to nonriders. This study aimed to facilitate targeted injury prevention strategies and appropriate trauma management by describing all horse-related injuries, for both riders and nonriders, in Queensland, and identifying those at greatest risk.

METHODS: Horse-related injury data from 2005 to 2009 were extracted from the Queensland Trauma Registry. Descriptive comparisons were undertaken for demographic, injury, and acute care characteristics between riders and nonriders, between pediatric and adult cases, and between sports/leisure and work injuries. The relative risk of surgery by sex and between riders and nonriders was assessed.

RESULTS: More than 25% of injuries occurred in people not riding a horse. Nonriders sustained a significantly higher proportion of internal organ injuries, open wounds, as well as facial and pelvic/abdominal injuries. Females accounted for more than 80% of children who were injured while riding a horse. For adults, 25% were injured while working, and more than 66% of injured workers were male. Injuries most commonly occurred in regional areas. Surgery was most common among children, nonriders, and those with Injury Severity Score (ISS) of 1 to 8. The likelihood of surgery was 25% higher for nonriders (95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.38%).

CONCLUSION: Horse-related injuries are most prevalent in identifiable populations, particularly young female riders and adult males injured while working. Injuries inflicted by horses to nonriders contribute more than 27% of all horse-related injuries; however, most previous research has been limited to injured riders. Compared with riders, nonriders more frequently sustain internal, facial, and pelvic injuries; are male; and undergo surgery. The results of this study may be used to tailor prevention strategies and inform trauma management specific to the type of horse exposure, patient age, and activity engaged in when injured.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiologic study, level III.

From Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (J.L., K.T., C.P., K.H., N.B.), School of Medicine, The University of Queensland; and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (M.S., K.T.), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Submitted: June 24, 2013, Revised: July 25, 2013, Accepted: July 26, 2013.

Address for reprints: Jacelle Lang, MSc, BSc(Hons), CONROD, Level 1, Edith Cavell Building, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Herston Rd, Herston, QLD, 4029, Australia; email: j.lang@uq.edu.au.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.