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Preparticipation Evaluation for Climbing Sports

Campbell, Aaron D. MD, MHS*; Davis, Christopher MD; Paterson, Ryan MD; Cushing, Tracy A. MD, MPH; Ng, Pearlly MD§; Peterson, Charles S. MD; Sedgwick, Peter E. MD; McIntosh, Scott E. MD, MPH§

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2015 - Volume 25 - Issue 5 - p 412–417
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000247
Care of the Wilderness Athlete

Abstract: Climbing is a popular wilderness sport among a wide variety of professional athletes and amateur enthusiasts, and many styles are performed across many environments. Potential risks confront climbers, including personal health or exacerbation of a chronic condition, in addition to climbing-specific risks or injuries. Although it is not common to perform a preparticipation evaluation (PPE) for climbing, a climber or a guide agency may request such an evaluation before participation. Formats from traditional sports PPEs can be drawn upon, but often do not directly apply. The purpose of this article was to incorporate findings from expert opinion from professional societies in wilderness medicine and in sports medicine, with findings from the literature of both climbing epidemiology and traditional sports PPEs, into a general PPE that would be sufficient for the broad sport of climbing. The emphasis is on low altitude climbing, and an overview of different climbing styles is included. Knowledge of climbing morbidity and mortality, and a standardized approach to the PPE that involves adequate history taking and counseling have the potential for achieving risk reduction and will facilitate further study on the evaluation of the efficacy of PPEs.

*Family and Sports Medicine, University of Utah Health Care, Salt Lake City, Utah;

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine;

Kaiser Permanente, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado;

§Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Utah Health Care, Salt Lake City, Utah;

Arizona Sports Medicine Center, Mesa, Arizona; and

Central Maine Sports Medicine (a Clinical Division of CMMC), Evergreen Sports Medicine Fellowship, Lewiston, Maine.

Corresponding Author: Aaron D. Campbell, (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

This article appears in a “Care of the Wilderness and Adventure Athlete” special issue, jointly published by Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine and Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

Received March 19, 2015

Accepted June 19, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.