Look Out! The Wintry Risks of Sledding

When it comes to winter activities, you’d be hard pressed to find something more popular than sledding. As fun as cruising down a snowy hill might be, sledding is actually a fairly dangerous activity – especially for children. 

Crash Landings 

According to recent research, thousands of children suffer injure themselves on sleds each winter. Published in the journal Pediatrics, this study based its findings emergency room data over a ten year span (1997 to 2007). During this period, the authors estimated that approximately 230,000 teenagers and children visited the ER after injuring themselves during sledding. On a yearly basis, this equates to 20,820 annual sledding injuries.

As troubling as that might number may be, the authors contend that it actually understates the scale of the problem; many children who get banged up during sled rides do not actually visit an emergency room.

Who And How

Listed below are some of the report’s more notable findings:

  • Children who fell between the ages of 10 and 14 sustained the largest portion of injuries (42.5 percent).
  • Boys were likelier to get hurt while sledding, account for three-fifths of injury cases
  • Over a quarter of injuries were classified as fractures, making them the most common sledding-related injury. The second most common injury were bruises/abrasions, followed by cuts/sprains.
  • An alarmingly high number of children (9 percent) were found to have suffered traumatic brain injuries

Reflecting on her team’s findings, lead author Lara McKenzie stated that while she wants kids to be able to enjoy sledding, parents and public health officials “could do a better job” protecting young sled riders. “Twenty thousand injuries a year for an activity you can only do a couple days a year is big,” stated McKenzie.

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