Sledding-related injuries continue to happen at an alarming rate, study finds

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Injury risks remain very high despite fewer consumers being hurt in recent years

As winter weather starts to touch down across the country, many consumers could be breaking out the sleds on their next snow day. While sledding can be a fun activity for the whole family, a new study conducted by researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital has found that sledding-related injuries are certainly a cause for concern for both kids and adults. 

According to their findings, the overall rate of sledding injuries has been declining in recent years. However, the risk of getting injured while sledding remains high, and it’s important that consumers take the necessary safety precautions when out in the snow. 

“While we are happy to see that the number of sledding-related injuries have gone down in recent years, the fact that these injuries are still happening at this rate means we need to do a better job getting the information out about the potential dangers associated with sledding and what families can do to prevent the injuries from occurring so this can remain a fun family activity,” said researcher Laura McKenzie, PhD. 

Prioritizing safety

For this study, the researchers analyzed data from hospitals across the U.S. that detailed all sledding injuries between 2008 and 2017. In nearly ten years, more than 220,000 patients were treated for sledding-related injuries in hospitals across the country, with more than 13,000 of those occurring in 2017. The researchers found that the rate of sledding injuries went down each year of the study, though there are still risks associated with activity.  

The biggest concern with these injuries is that more than 70 percent of them affected children aged 19 and younger, and more than 80 percent of all sledding-related accidents were linked to head injuries. The researchers explained that collisions tend to be the most likely culprits for sledding injuries, as nearly 65 percent of all injuries occurred due to colliding with either another person, an object, or the ground.

“Collision is particularly concerning because of the outcomes,” said researcher Rebecca McAdams. “We found that patients who were injured from a collision were more likely to injure their head, be diagnosed with a concussion or closed-head injury (CHI), and were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized than patients injured by all other mechanisms.” 

Though there are certainly risks associated with sledding, the researchers explained that there are things consumers can do to increase the safety of the pastime. For example, wearing a helmet can protect against any number of head injuries, and picking a location free of any obstacles and with plenty of open space increases the likelihood that sledding occurs injury-free. The researchers also recommend that consumers avoid sledding at night and choose a sled that has braking capabilities for optimal safety. 

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