Are current back protectors suitable to prevent spinal injury in recreational snowboarders?
OBJECTIVE: Back protectors for snowboarders were analysed with respect to their potential to prevent spinal injury. DESIGN: In 20 Swiss skiing resorts, athletes were interviewed on the slope. In addition, an online survey was conducted. The performance of 12 commercially available back protectors was investigated by means of mechanical testing. A currently used drop test according to standard EN1621 (motorcycle protectors), testing energy damping was supplemented by penetration tests according to standard EN1077, which reflects snowsport safety concerns. RESULTS: 6 out of 12 back protectors fulfilled the higher safety level defined in EN1621. Protectors making use of energy-absorbing layers performed particularly well. In contrast, hard shell protectors exhibited a higher potential to withstand the penetration test. The surveys confirmed that approximately 40-50% of snowboarders use a back protector. A large majority of users expect protection from severe spinal injury such as vertebra