Rock climbing used to be one of those extreme sports made for only a select few dare-devils. Fast-forward to 2013 and you’ll find the sport has grown into a mainstream activity. That’s got a lot to do with the invention of the indoor rock wall. Located in gyms, luxury resorts and on cruise ships, indoor rock walls are now a common year-round activity. In fact, it is estimated that over 300,000 people in the United States have climbed an indoor rock wall. But, with a higher number of people participating, a higher number of people are suffering rock climbing injuries.
Research suggests that an estimated 9 million people enjoy some form of rock climbing each year. As a result of the increased number, researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital conducted a study specific to the sport and its injuries. The study found that there was a 63 percent increase in the number of patients seen in the nation’s emergency rooms between 1990 and 2007. That translates to more than 40,000 severe rock climbing injuries.
The Appeal of a Rock Climbing Wall
If you’ve ever seen a rock climbing wall in the gym or even in the mall, you’ve probably noticed that there is always a crowd of people. The idea of rock climbing seems to bring out the adventurer in everyone. Unfortunately, people who are looking for adventure and exercise on these walls may not know the risks that come with participating.
Rock climbing walls are often advertised as fun places to have a birthday party, engage in trust-building exercises or for a family race. Many walls are up to 40 feet tall and boast they are safe for even the most inexperienced climber. What they don’t tell you is that these walls may end up giving you more than you asked for. While they’re touted as a fun and healthy activity, poor regulation, inadequate maintenance and flawed designs of these walls can negatively impact your life forever.
You are typically asked to sign a waiver before getting into a harness and climbing the structure. The forms generally state that you understand all of the dangers that are involved with climbing the rock wall. However, if something goes wrong up there, it’s not all on your shoulders. The people who construct and operate these climbing walls, especially those who are not experienced in the industry, do hold responsibility for your safety.
Causes of Indoor Rock Climbing Injuries
There are many different causes of rock climbing injuries. The most common are as follows:
- Faulty ropes, harnesses, chains, anchors, hardware or any other major part of the wall itself
- Contact with the climbing wall itself
- Falls from the climbing wall
- Collisions with the “rocks” and projections on the wall’s surface
- Climbers who fall or drop items cause serious injury to someone below
- Poor employee training and supervision
Common Indoor Rock Climbing Injuries
Once you understand all the things that can go wrong on a rock climbing wall, it’s easy to picture the multitude of injuries that could result. Here’s a list of the most common injuries associated with rock wall climbing:
- Broken Bones
- Cuts and Lacerations
- Torn Ligaments
- Bone Fractures
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
- Rope Burn to Hands and Body
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Death Related to Fall
Whether you are climbing a rock wall in a park, gym, mall, cruise ship or amusement park, there are dangers lurking. You are depending on a harness and rope system to hold your weight as you climb straight up the wall. In addition, each time you climb, you’re also putting your life in the hands of the people managing the rope systems and the wall structure itself.
If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, or you’d like more information about the due diligence of rock climbing wall operators, contact San Francisco personal injury lawyer Nelson C. Barry. You may be able to seek compensation for your damages. Call us today at (415) 587-0550 and schedule your free case evaluation.