MONDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- What activity involves careening down hills at high speeds without protective gear or brakes?
Maybe you're stumped because the most of the country is sweltering in one of the hottest summers in years, but the answer is sledding, and new research shows that the winter pastime accounts for some 20,000 injuries each year.
"It's probably not something that's on everyone's minds right now," said senior study author Lara McKenzie, a principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "But 20,000 injuries a year for a recreational pastime you can only do when it's snowing is a lot."
Boys, especially those aged 10 to 14, were most prone to accidents, accounting for nearly 60 percent of those injured.
"Boys are more likely than girls to be injured in almost everything," McKenzie said. "That's a pretty standard finding."
Using data from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers found that nearly 230,000 children and teens were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for sledding-related injuries between 1997 and 2007.
According to the study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, fractures were the most common injury (26 percent), followed by cuts and bruises (25 percent), strains and sprains (16 percent) and traumatic brain injuries (9 percent). Overall, the head was the most commonly injured body part, accounting for 34 percent of injuries requiring emergency department care.
Head injuries are also the most serious, noted Dr. Michelle Macy, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at University of Michigan who sees kids injured from sledding every winter.
"Any time a kid's brain is injured, it's a particular concern," Macy said. "Broken bones will heal, but the co
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