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ER doc provides rules for safe sledding

Posted February 1, 2010

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— Patients have been showing up in area hospital emergency rooms since Saturday with sledding-related injuries, physicians said Monday.

The injuries go beyond bumps and bruises to include blunt trauma injuries, some of which are life-threatening, they said.

ATV Sledding Sledding no-nos include towing, standing

"(We've seen) very severe brain injury, and then we've had internal injuries, including splenic – or spleen – injuries as well as kidney injuries," said Dr. Osi Udekwu, WakeMed's medical director of trauma and general surgery.

Rex Hospital reported 29 sledding-related injuries from early Saturday through Monday evening. None of the patients, who ranged in age from 4 to 68, was admitted, a spokeswoman said.

Matthew Becker, 14, ended up in WakeMed with a compound fracture above his ankle because he was sledding Sunday while standing on a boogie board instead of sitting down. He said his trouble started when he lost his balance and tried to avoid falling on his head.

"I tried to catch myself with my foot, and it went back and hit the back of my leg," said Becker, who has several screws in his ankle and a cast on his entire right leg.

Udekwu said the patients he's seen over the weekend helped him build a list for sledding safety.

"Towing by motorized device is always inappropriate," he said.

Several WRAL.com visitors sent in photos and videos of themselves or their neighbors using pickup trucks or all-terrain vehicles to tow people on sleds, in flat-bottom boats or on boogie boards.

Udekwu also advised sledders to avoid slopes where there are physical obstructions, such as fire hydrants, parked cars and posts. One Johnston County woman was airlifted to WakeMed on Saturday when her sled slammed into a pole.

Sledders also should use only approved devices for the activity – not boogie boards – and people should be able to steer the sleds, he said.

"You should never sled with your head as the leading device, no matter what you're on," he said.

Udekwu said people should wear helmets while sledding, just as they would on a bike, roller skates or skis.

Adults should always supervise children who are sledding, he said.

"There should be both an adult at the top and bottom of the slope," he said, adding that adults need to block access to traffic if children are sledding down neighborhood streets.

Becker added one more rule for fun in the snow: "Listen to your parents."

7 Comments

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  • Lab mom Feb 2, 2010

    You know,I have to say we let our daughter (8 Yrs old) ride all day Sunday with no helmet and I never thought twice until yesterday when our Grandmother fussed at us. She was pulled by a gator. Helmets should have been worn and I am lucky she did not get hurt. Great article WRAL. We will be more responsible next time.

  • mulecitybabe Feb 2, 2010

    Why don't parents just slap a helmet on their kid's head when they pop out of the birth canal? Or go ahead and have them applied in utero? I'm glad I was born when kids were allowed to be kids. Amazing I managed to live.

  • jkca Feb 2, 2010

    The helmets will be used next time my kids go sledding. If they don't like it, they won't sled. Good article.

  • Nunya123 Feb 1, 2010

    Who would have thought that if you used common sense you'd lessen the chance of injury. Too bad it actually takes a news story for some people to understand that. Of course, since they didn't cover every possible situation, they can use WRAL and this doctor as a scapegoat now if they decide to sled down interstate 40.

  • kittiboo Feb 1, 2010

    I don't think he meant block traffic. He meant blocking the KIDS from going INTO the traffic. Which should be common sense.

  • nandud Feb 1, 2010

    You're right, vaulter. Just as kids aren't supposed to play in cul-de-sacs. What is up with people? It's a road for traffic.

  • vaulter Feb 1, 2010

    You do NOT have the right to block access to traffic on a public or neighborhood road! A citizen does not have the authority to just randomly close a road for ANY reason, including sledding.