Spinal cord injury trends in skimboarding

Spine Model

Skimboarding is a popular water sport that involves "skimming" a wave from shore to ocean. As it has become more competitive and extreme, the risk of injury has increased. Past medical research has shown an increase in fractures and sprains, but a recent study has shown that there is also a significant risk of spinal cord injury.

In a series of case studies from Emory University in Georgia, medical researchers presented three cases of skimboarding accidents that resulted in spinal cord injury. In each case, the patient had flipped his board in shallow water so that his head made contact with the ocean floor. The resulting injuries affected areas C3-C5 and resulted in partial to complete paralysis.

As compared to similar sports, such as traditional surfing, there is a significant risk of spinal cord injury in skimboarding due to the potential for landing head first in shallow water. Skimboarders, their families, and clinicians should be aware of this increased risk.

Collier TR, Jones ML, & Murray HH. Skimboarding: A new cause of water sport spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. (2010).