MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- What activity involves
careening down hills at high speeds without protective gear or
Maybe you're stumped because the most of the country is
sweltering in one of the hottest summers in years, but the answer
is sledding, and new research shows that the winter pastime
accounts for some 20,000 injuries each year.
"It's probably not something that's on everyone's minds right now," said senior study author Lara McKenzie, a principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "But 20,000 injuries a year for a recreational pastime you can only do when it's snowing is a lot."
Boys, especially those aged 10 to 14, were most prone to
accidents, accounting for nearly 60 percent of those injured.
"Boys are more likely than girls to be injured in almost everything," McKenzie said. "That's a pretty standard finding."
Using data from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission's
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers found
that nearly 230,000 children and teens were treated in U.S.
hospital emergency departments for sledding-related injuries
between 1997 and 2007.
According to the study, published in the September issue of
Pediatrics, fractures were the most common injury (26 percent), followed by cuts and bruises (25 percent), strains and sprains (16 percent) and traumatic brain injuries (9 percent). Overall, the head was the most commonly injured body part, accounting for 34 percent of injuries requiring emergency department care.
Head injuries are also the most serious, noted Dr. Michelle
Macy, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at University of
Michigan who sees kids injured from sledding every winter.
"Any time a kid's brain is injured, it's a particular concern," Macy said. "Broken bones will heal, but the consequences of a head injury can be lifelong."
Collisions with trees, utility polls, fellow sledders and other
obstacles caused about half of the injuries, according to the
study. Collisions were the most likely to result in a head injury.
Other causes of injuries were falls, flips and leaps off the sled,
toboggans, snow tubes or snow disks.
Going to an official sledding zone doesn't seem to offer much
protection. More than half of injuries occurred at a sports or
recreation area, while about one third occurred on private
With some ski resorts are now requiring minors to wear helmets,
and proposals in several state legislatures pending at various
stages, sledders may also want to consider donning protective gear,
McKenzie said, citing one report found that wearing helmets during
skiing reduced head injuries in children under age 15 by 58
When it comes time to dig out the ear muffs and mittens, at the
very least, parents should keep tabs on where their kids are
sledding and make sure the hill has a clear run out for the sled to
glide to a stop.
"The fact that 10- to 14-year-olds, particularly the boys, are more to prone to injuries speaks to the risk taking that goes along with those ages," Macy said. "If they can't be there when their children are making choices about sledding, parents need to talk to their children about the environment they're sledding in."
Other safety tips include:
Nemours Foundation has more on winter sports
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.