Snow shoveling causes high number of injuries: study

January 19, 2011

Columbus, OH – An average of 11,500 people are treated at emergency rooms for injuries and medical emergencies related to snow shoveling each year, according to a report released Jan. 17 by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Data from between 1990 and 2006 shows the majority of the injuries were soft-tissue injuries, with the lower back being affected 34 percent of the time. Acute musculoskeletal exertion was the cause of injury in 54 percent of the cases, followed by slips and falls (20 percent) and being struck by a snow shovel (15 percent).

Although 7 percent of the incidents were related to cardiac events, these were by far the most serious, accounting for half of the shoveling-related hospitalizations and 100 of the 1,647 fatalities. People older than 55 were 4.25 times more likely to suffer a cardiac event.

Study authors recommended individuals talk to their doctor before shoveling snow, particularly those who do not exercise regularly, have a medical condition or are in a high-risk group. They also recommended alternative snow removal methods.

The study was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine (Vol. 29, No. 1).