Winter wouldn't be the same without zooming a sled
down a snowy hill. But this favorite snowy-weather pastime could
land kids in a heap of trouble. About 20,000 children under age 19
go to the emergency room each year with sledding-related injuries,
more than 4 percent requiring hospitalization, according to recent
data by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide
Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Boys were more likely to be
injured, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all injuries. More
than 42 percent of the injuries involved children age 10 to 14.
Collisions produced 51 percent of the injuries. While the
majority of injuries were fractures, cuts and bruises, collisions
were more likely to result in traumatic brain injury. The majority
of injuries, 34 percent, occurred to the head. The American Academy
of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends all participants wear helmets,
sit in a forward-facing position and never slide headfirst down a
To further reduce injury, sleds should be self-propelled.
Children and young adults being pulled by motorized vehicles
accounted for one-third of all injuries. Those under age 4 were
more likely to be involved in accidents with vehicles.
"Given the potential for serious injury, children should never
ride a sled that is being pulled by a motorized vehicle of any type
including all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, cars, trucks,
tractors, motorcycles, dirt bikes and lawn mowers," says the
study's co-author, Lara McKenzie, Ph.D., the center's principal
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County, which
maintains 10 lighted and unlighted sledding and coasting hills,
recommends children under age 12 wear a helmet and be supervised by
an adult, and prohibits the use of inflatable tubes and
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