Children and adolescents with an injury or disability may use mobility aids such as crutches, walkers and wheelchairs to help them move around more easily. However, use of these aids has been associated with risk for injury. A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that more than 63,000 pediatric mobility aid-related injuries were treated in United States emergency departments from 1991-2008, and the annual number of cases increased 23 percent during the 19-year study period.
Results of the study, available as an early release online and appearing in the June print issue of Pediatrics, showed that most mobility aid-related injuries occur at home (60 percent). Two injury patterns were also revealed in the data. First, injury patterns varied by the type of mobility aid. Children who used crutches were more likely to sustain injuries to the arms and legs and to be diagnosed with a strain or a sprain. Children who used walkers or wheelchairs, on the other hand, had a higher likelihood of sustaining injuries to the head, were three times more likely to be diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and had a higher likelihood of being hospitalized for their injuries.
"The associations between injury characteristics and type of mobility aid may be a result of the limitations of the children who were using the various aids. Crutch users typically have fewer cognitive, stability and functional limitations than walker and wheelchair users," explained study author Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Likewise, children who fall while using crutches may be able to catch themselves with their feet or hands more easily than those who fall while using walkers or wheelchairs, thereby preventing injuries to the head but leading to more upper extremity injuries."
|Contact: Erin Pope|
Nationwide Children's Hospital