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Rates and types of injuries during the three consecutive years 2016 to 2018 of the Vätternrundan - One of the world's largest and longest bicycle races

Journal article
Authors Karin Sillén
Ville Wallenius
Published in Traffic Injury Prevention
Volume 20
Issue 7
Pages 749-752
ISSN 1538-9588
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Gastrosurgical Research and Education
Pages 749-752
Language en
Keywords Bicyclist, bicycling, traumatic injury, cycling competition, endurance cycling, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health, Transportation
Subject categories Environmental Health and Occupational Health


Objective: The present study was performed during 3 consecutive years of the Vatternrundan in Sweden, one of the world's longest and largest bicycle races. The aim was to examine the rates and types of injuries to participating cyclists in order to identify the reasons and mechanisms for injury, with the purpose of decreasing the risk of injury. Method: A retrospective observational interference study was performed over 3 consecutive years. Data were collected from medical records of cyclists who were treated at hospital for traumatic injuries at the Vatternrundan 2016. Injured cyclists were asked to fill out questionnaires about the accidents. During the 2 consecutive years 2017 to 2018, a follow-up was performed in order to evaluate whether the precautions taken, based on the data from the previous year, could decrease rate of injuries during the consecutive race. Results: Sixty-nine (0.35%) of the 19,663 participants in the Vatternrundan in 2016 were included in the study, due to their need for hospital care. The corresponding numbers for 2017 and 2018 were 52 (0.27%) and 44 (0.22%), respectively. The most common injury was fracture to the clavicle (18-30%). In total, 68-74% of all injuries were to the upper body (above the hip; P < .001 compared to lower body). A crash with another cyclist caused by crowding was the most frequent mechanism of injury. A few risky "hot spots" for injuries were identified along the race track, and the mechanisms for accidents were hypothesized based on the responses of injured cyclists and the geographic clustering of accidents. These reasons were systematically targeted during the planning of the race in 2017 and 2018. Conclusion: We found that the overwhelming majority of traumatic injuries were to the upper body, with the most common injury being clavicular fracture. The most common mechanism for injury was interference between cyclists in the first year's race, mainly due to crowding because of the track being too narrow at certain locations. The interventions performed, based on these findings, resulted in a substantial decrease in injuries during the next 2 consecutive Vatternrundan races. Thus, systematic identification and elimination of hazards contributed to a reduction of the rate of injury by 37% (P = .0013, chi(2)) during the 3 years of the study.

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