Page 32 - Bauerfeind life international_02_2012

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magazine 2012/2
Fast, faster, fastest. In skiing, continuously enhanced materials, well-prepared slopes
and artificial snow all help fulfill this need for speed. These factors may not bring injury
statistics down to zero, but medical treatment options have also been developed further.
Bauerfeind life
discussed this topic with Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler, a trauma surgeon and
team physician for the Austrian Ski Association.
Winter sport injuries
Stabilization, movement and healing
You provide support for the players in the Red
Bull Salzburg ice hockey team, along with
Ludwig Paischer, a successful international
judoka, and the athletes of the Austrian Ski
Association. What are the particular chal-
lenges facing a team physician when it comes
to winter sports?
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
Naturally, I have
to be able to ski safely myself, so I can get
medical supplies to injured skiers on difficult
and icy slopes quickly and safely.
Are there fundamental differences between
the injuries suffered by novice skiers and
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
You might assume
that professional athletes ski faster and are
more willing to take risks, meaning that they
are more likely to suffer more serious injuries
than amateur skiers. However, amateurs
often misjudge their own abilities, which can
result in accidents both on- and off-piste.
Better slope preparation and the use of
artificial snow also encourage faster skiing,
thus increasing the chance of accidents at
higher speeds.
So what are the most common winter sport
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
Trivial injuries
like sprains, bruises, torn muscle fibers or
sprains are the most notable ones. Naturally,
we also see serious injuries to joints and
ligaments or even broken bones. The higher
the speed at which the accident or collision
takes place, the more likely it is that serious
injuries will occur, such as fractures in the
thighs, spine and hips.
Are there different types of injuries in Alpine
skiing and snowboarding?
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
Yes, completely dif-
ferent. Alpine skiers are more likely to injure
their knees or shins, while snowboarders’
vulnerable points are their wrists and arms.
This also explains why, in terms of statistics,
knee injuries are the most common injuries
in winter sports, but injuries to hands and
arms combined occur almost as frequently.
Is it possible to identify a trend in this regard
over the years?
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
With the changes
to equipment and technical possibilities,
there has also been a shift in terms of inju-
ries. Take ski boots, for example: previously,
the leverage forces acting on the edge of the
ski boots often led to fractures in the tibia,
particularly what are known as boot-top
fractures. Over the years, ski boots have been
cut higher and higher to transfer the force
more effectively to the ski. This has shifted
injuries upward, from the lower leg toward
the knee. Too much pressure on the skier
during skiing can therefore cause tears in
the cruciate ligaments, even without a fall.
Has your work as a trauma surgeon also
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler:
Medicine has natu-
rally developed enormously over the past
20 years. We now have more refined surgical
technology and better, that is to say more
conservative, medical aids and therapies
at our disposal. Today, many operations are
performed as non-invasively as possible by
Dr. Gerhard Oberthaler.