Many of us probably have fond memories of enjoying our winters of youth with some good old-fashioned sledding fun with friends and family. What is not frequently remembered is how dangerous it can be. Alarmingly, despite sledding being popular for only part of the year, it accounts for over 20,000 emergency room visits per year. The September issue of the journal Pediatrics, lists some eye opening statistics about sledding injuries:
25% were cuts and bruises.
26% were fractures or broken bones.
51% occurred during a collision.
Collision injuries were most likely to result in traumatic brain injury.
34% of injuries involved the head.
52% occurred at a place of sports or recreation.
31% occurred on private property.
42.5% of injuries involved children aged 10-14.
59.8% of injuries were sustained by boys.
4.1% of emergency department visits required hospitalization.
Other injuries not listed above include concussion and traumatic injuries to the liver, kidneys, and spleen. Despite these statistics, sledding will undoubtedly occur. However, there are some recommendations that may help limit the risk of serious injuries:
-Choose sledding areas that are clear of trees and other obstacles and are not over crowded with people sledding.
-Do not build and sled over “ramps.”
Sledding areas should have sufficient room to slow down/stop away from a street.
-Do not allow a child to ride on a sled being pulled by any motorized vehicle (including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, cars, or trucks).
-The use of sleds that can rotate such as disks and snow tubes should be discouraged.
-Children should be supervised by adults.
-Helmets should be considered although research is still needed to determine whether they would reduce injury rates.
So should you partake in this wintertime tradition remember to be careful and dress very warmly to avoid frostbite!