Public release date: 17-Jan-2006

Contact: Judy Erickson


SAGE Publications

Mountain bikers are cautioned to ride with care -

major injuries do happen

Mountain biking is considered a relatively safe

sport, as accidents typically result in minor

injuries. However, over the past 25 years, the

sport has grown from a pastime to an Olympic

sport, and major injuries are becoming more

prevalent. In an article from The American

Journal of Sports Medicine published by SAGE

Publications, three mountain biking injury cases

that resulted in acute cervical spine injuries

resulting in tetraplegia, commonly called

quadriplegia, are reported. Previously published

research on this subject have commonly only noted

serious neck injuries, and no detailed reports

have been made on cervical spinal cord injuries

in English literature.

In each of the three cases, male mountain bikers,

ranging in age from 38 to 53 years old, were

severely injured. In all the three cases, the

bikers reportedly fell over the handlebars, and

the helmet was the first to receive the impact of

the fall. In the first case, the biker's front

wheel came off during a downhill ride, and in the

second case, there was a lack of hazard warnings

on the trail--both potentially preventable

causes. The severe impact of the accidents

resulted in damage to the helmets (in one case,

the impact of the fall caused the biker's helmet

to split into two pieces). All three mountain

bikers lost the ability to move their limbs.

Although a CT or MRI scan ultimately showed the

severe cervical spine injuries, in one case the

diagnosis was initially overlooked. This was

possibly due to the incoherent state of the

injured biker that resulted from a head injury.

The authors reported that as cerebral concussions

are not uncommon in mountain biking injuries, a

spinal injury must be assumed in an injured biker

with abnormal mental status until proven


The authors conclude that preventable causes of

mountain biking accidents can result in serious

cervical spine injuries. It is essential that

medical teams attending to the injuries are aware

of this and take proper precautionary steps to

diagnose these injuries. When no injuries are

found on radiographs, a CT and/or MRI scan may be

useful in further diagnosis.



The article "Acute Cervical Spine Injuries in

Mountain Biking" (AJSM PreView, October 6, 2005)

can be found on The American Journal of Sports

Medicine's website at Media may

receive a free copy of the article by contacting

Judy Erickson of SAGE Publications at

About The American Journal of Sports Medicine:

The American Journal of Sports Medicine is a

peer-reviewed scientific journal, first published

in 1974. It is the official publication of the

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

(AOSSM), and is ranked 4th out of 71 Sports

Sciences Journals in the 2004 Thomson Scientific

Journal Citation Reports®, with an Impact Factor

of 2.402. Visit the journal's homepage at for more information.

About SAGE:

SAGE Publications ( is a

leading international publisher of journals,

books, and electronic media for academic,

educational, and professional markets. Since

1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global

community of scholars, practitioners,

researchers, and students. SAGE Publications, a

privately owned corporation, has principal

offices in Thousand Oaks, California, London,

United Kingdom, and in New Delhi, India.