Seventy-seven of the injured children had skull fractures, 62 had hemorrhages, and 53 had brain injuries. Twelve children had spine fractures, and three of those had spinal cord injuries. Thirty-two children had injuries to their lungs. One hundred and fifty-nine children had fractures of their extremities, most often a leg bone. Eleven children had to undergo amputations as a result of their injuries.
Shah said their youngest patient was 6 months old and had been riding with his mother. The infant suffered a fractured thigh bone and, as a result of the injury, will walk with a permanent limp. "I would like to ask that mother, when your child is older and can't participate in sports because of his limping, what will you say when your child asks, 'Why did you put me on that ATV?' Will she have an answer for that?"
Shah said his study also includes two different 2-year-old ATV drivers, who managed to start the devices and ride them without their parents' knowledge. One was found unconscious next to the ATV. She had a severe brain hemorrhage and is permanently disabled as a result of the accident.
"I think parents probably don't have a real picture of the consequences and the injuries these machines can cause," said Shah, who presented his findings Monday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting, in Chicago.
Shah recommended that children not ride ATVs until they're at least 16, but added that size is probably a more important determinant of who can probably control an ATV, and said he'd like to see some sort of sensor built in to these machines so it wouldn't start unless you were of a particular weight.
"Ideally, no child under the age of 16 should ever operate or
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