Orthopedic injuries associated with jet-skis (personal watercrafts): A review of 127 inpatients

C. J. Donnally, P. M. Rothenberg, G. Metser, D. H. Massel, A. J. Butler, D. Damodar, S. H. Shin, T. L. Zakrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Personal watercrafts (PWC) account for a disproportionate amount of water based injuries. Current literature suggests those with less PWC experience are more at risk for injury. Previous studies have not specifically evaluated the orthopedic implications of PWC usage or how various mechanisms of injury (MOI) contribute to different injury patterns. Hypothesis: PWC injuries will frequently require orthopedic intervention. The presence of an orthopedic injury will result in increased injury severity score (ISS), hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS). Patients visiting our region will have less PWC experience and so are more prone to serious injuries. Materials and methods: Retrospective cohort study at a single Level 1 trauma center of admitted patients sustaining PWC injuries from 02/2004–03/2017. The following were studied: demographics, mechanism, season, ISS, hospital and ICU LOS, follow-up, fracture characteristics and management. Results: Hundred and twenty-seven patients were admitted due to PWC injury, 66 (52.0%) sustained an orthopedic injury, totaling 103 fractures (48 [46.6%] lower extremity, 26 [25.2%] upper extremity, 14 [13.6%] vertebral, 11 [10.7%] pelvic ring and 4 [3.9%] acetabulum). The mean age of orthopedic patients was 29 years (range 8–62). Handle bar injuries were significantly associated with open fractures, (13 of 25 open fractures, 3 of which became infected). Injuries occurring during the winter were associated with a higher ISS, yet more injuries occurred in the summer. A patient being a “visitor” to the region did not influence ISS. The mean LOS was 12.6 days for orthopedic patients. Eighteen orthopedic patients (27.3%) required ICU admission and 36 (54.5%) patients required orthopedic surgery (mean 2.11 operations). Discussion: A majority of PWC injuries resulted in extremity fractures with a moderate percentage requiring orthopedic surgery. Correlations between PWC experience and injury incidence can provide information for increased safety. Level of evidence: IV; retrospective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-271
Number of pages5
JournalOrthopaedics and Traumatology: Surgery and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquatic injuries
  • Fractures
  • Jet-ski
  • Orthopedics
  • Personal watercraft
  • Sea-Doo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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