To describe the epidemiology of sledding-related injuries among children and adults treated in US emergency departments (EDs).
The researchers performed a retrospective analysis using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
The NEISS collects data on consumer products-related and sports-related injuries treated in US EDs from approximately 100 hospitals that represent a probability sample of >5000 hospitals.
Children (≤19 years of age) and adults who were treated for sledding-related injuries in EDs from 2008 to 2017.
The researchers analyzed characteristics that included sex, body part injured, injury diagnosis, disposition from the ED, injury locale, injury mechanism, and sled type.
Main Outcome Measures:
All cases of sledding-related injuries were identified using NEISS product codes for sleds (1217), toboggans (1273), snow disks (1274), and snow tubes (1299).
An estimated 220 488 patients [95% confidence interval (CI): 169 839-271 137] were treated in EDs for sledding-related injuries. Overall, the injury rate decreased significantly for both children and adults. Children accounted for 69.7% of the injury cases. Fractures were the most common injury diagnosis for children (23.9%) and adults (27.4%). Compared to adults, children were more likely to sustain a head injury [relative risk (RR): 1.91 (95% CI: 1.73-2.13)] and be diagnosed with a concussion or closed-head injury (CHI) [RR: 1.58 (95% CI: 1.35-1.84)]. Most patients were injured by a collision (63.2%). Snow tube and disk riders were more likely to sustain a concussion or CHI compared to sled and toboggan riders [RR: 1.53 (95% CI: 1.18-1.99)]. Injuries predominantly occurred when patients collided with objects in the environment (47.2%).
Although sledding-related injuries decreased over the study period, more research and education to prevent these injuries is needed. The injury patterns and risk of injury type differed by age, with more head injuries sustained by children. Sledding should be performed in obstacle-free areas to reduce the risk of collision and while wearing helmets to mitigate head injuries.