The objectives were to examine comprehensively the patterns and to estimate the rates of sledding-related injuries among children and adolescents treated in US emergency departments between 1997 and 2007.
Through the use of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, cases of sledding-related injuries were selected by using diagnosis codes for sleds. Sample weights were used to calculate national estimates. US Census Bureau data were used to calculate injury rates per 100 000 individuals ≤19 years of age. Computation of odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals was performed.
From 1997 through 2007 an estimated 229 023 patients ≤19 years of age were treated for sledding-related injuries in US emergency departments, with an average of 20 820 cases per year. Children 10 to 14 years of age sustained 42.5% of sledding-related injuries, and boys represented 59.8% of all cases. The most frequent injury diagnoses were fractures (26.3%), followed by contusions and abrasions (25.0%). The head was the most commonly injured body part (34.1%), and injuries to the head were twice as likely to occur during collisions as through other mechanisms. Traumatic brain injuries were more likely to occur with snow tubes than with other sled types. A total of 4.1% of all cases required hospitalization.
More research on the prevention of sledding-related injuries is warranted, particularly regarding the impact of helmets in reducing injury rates. The use of sledding products that may reduce visibility (such as snow tubes) should be discouraged.