Researchers Investigate Zipline Injuries from 1997 to 2012
A study suggests that injuries associated with ziplines are on the rise in the United States. Ziplines allow riders to travel from one elevation to another through a pulley system suspended on a cable. They are used as a form of entertainment and outdoor recreation; for example, individuals can participate in group zipline tours. According to the study, which analyzed zipline-related injuries from 1997 through 2012, the injuries were most commonly caused by falls leading to fractures.
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The findings were published in December 2015 by The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Researchers conducted the study by analyzing non-fatal zipline injuries treated in US emergency departments from 1997 through 2012. Data was obtained through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database.
The researchers identified 16,850 zipline-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments between 1997 and 2012. Overall, the findings show an increase in zipline injuries. In 2009, the rate of zipline-related injuries was 7.64 per 1 million population compared to 11.64 in 2012. This represents an increase of 52.3 percent between 2009 and 2012.
The study found that 45 percent of injuries affected children between the ages of 0 and 9 years old. In terms of gender, females accounted for 53.1 percent of injuries. In 11.7 percent of cases, the zipline injuries required hospitalization. The most common injuries were fractures, accounting for 46.7 percent. Injuries most often affected the upper extremities, which made up 44.1 percent.
Most injuries (77.3 percent) were caused by falls. Out of cases where the location of injury was known, 69.2 percent occurred in a public place while 30.8 percent occurred in a residential setting, researchers found.
“This study is the first to characterize the epidemiology of zipline-related injuries using a nationally representative database. The rapid increase in zipline-related injuries in recent years suggests the need for additional safety guidelines and regulations,” the authors wrote. “Commercial ziplines and publicly accessible non-commercial ziplines should be subject to uniform safety standards in all states and jurisdictions across the US, and homemade ziplines should not be used.”
The authors note that safety concerns have been raised over ziplines after media outlets covered stories of zipline injuries. However, they note that very little research has been conducted investigating the epidemiology of zipline-related injuries. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine non-fatal zipline-related injuries, including those occurring on homemade ziplines, commercial operations, challenge courses, and canopy tours, using a nationally representative database. An analysis of the epidemiology of these incidents will allow for a greater understanding of the injury risk associated with zipline use, which will help inform the development of additional safety guidelines and regulations,” the authors write.
Zipline Injuries in the News
Several stories of zipline-related injuries have made the news, raising concerns about zipline safety. In Maui, one woman fell roughly 150-feet to her death in May 2014. MauiNow.com reported that the woman, 29, worked for the Piʻiholo Ranch Zipline.
In August 2014, The Frederick News-Post reported that a man from Frederick, Maryland was left in critical condition following a zipline injury. Reportedly, the man’s head collided with another man’s shoulder when a second person was sent down the zipline too early. The man suffered brain injuries and a small fracture to the shoulder. The injury resulted from an accident and not a mechanical failure, officials said. Before the man was able to detach from his line, a second person was sent down, causing the victim to roll back toward the middle and hit a second person.
Injuries and deaths have been reported with both homemade and corporate ziplines. In July 2012, a 28-year-old man from Wilton, New York died while using a homemade zipline suspended between two trees. According to Saratogian News, one of the trees he used was dead and decomposing. As he was standing on the tree’s platform, the tree fell on top of him.
In Boston, a 10-year-old boy was critically injured by a toppling tree during a zipline accident. The zipline was attached to two trees outside of a home. The accident, which occurred in December 2013, occurred when one of the trees gave out, according to CBS Boston.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
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