Head Injury Risks Associated with Sledding

The table below provides a summary of eight medical research studies of sledding injuries in Canada and the United States. All eight papers noted that head injuries were common. The authors of all eight studies agreed that sledders should use helmets or that the potential value of helmets should be further investigated. As an additional preventative measure, every medical research paper listed in the table stated that the sledding area should be clear of fixed objects such as trees, rocks, fences, or poles. Therefore, one of the most important steps a person can take when to ensure one’s safety when sledding is to select a path that is free of fixed obstacles.

Summary of Research Findings on Sledding Injuries

Study LocationNumber of Sledding PatientsPercent of Head InjuriesPercent of Fixed Object CollisionsStudy PeriodAuthors
Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto2259%41%Dec 1991 to Dec 1992Kim, P. C. W.; Haddock, G.; Bohn, D.; Wesson, D. Tobogganing Injuries in Children. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Vol. 30, No 8. pp 1135-1137. 1995.
Sudbury, Ontario10115%31%Dec 1992 to Mar 1993Wynne, A. D.; Bota, G. W.; Rowe, B. H. Sledding Trauma in a Northeastern Ontario Community. The Journal of Trauma. Vol. 37. No. 5. pp. 820-825. 1994.
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Ottawa9512%33%Winter 1994-1995Lee, F.; Osmond, M. H.; Vaidyanathan, C. P.; Sutcliffe, T.; Klassen, T. P. Descriptive Study of Sledding Injuries in Canadian Children. Injury Prevention. Vol. 5. pp. 198-202. 1999.
Northern Edmonton32813%27%Apr 1997 to Mar 1999Voaklander, D. C.; Kelly, K. D.; Sukrani, N.; Sher, A.; Rowe, B. H. Sledding Injuries in Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department in a Northern City. Academic Emergency Medicine. Vol. 8. No. 6. pp. 629-635. 2001.
Oregon3255%85% [1]1992-1999Federiuk, C. S.; Schlueter, J. L.; Adams, A. L. Skiing, Snowboarding, and Sledding Injuries in a Northwestern State. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. Vol 13. pp. 245-249. 2002.
USA41,27231%39%2001-2002Borowska, S.; Amanullah, S.; Mello, M. J.; Linakis, J. G. Emergency Department Visits for Sledding Injuries in Children in the United States in 2001/2002. Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. Vol. 13. pp. 181-185. 2006.
USA229,02334.10%54.90%1997-2007Howell, C. A.; Nelson, N. G.; McKenzie, L. B. Pediatric and Adolescent Sledding-Related Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments in 1997-2007. Pediatrics. Vol. 126, Number 3, 2010.
Michigan5260%37%2003-2011Herman, R.; Hirschl, R. B.; Ehrlich, P. F. Sledding injuries a practice-based study is it time to raise awareness? Pediatric Surgery International. Vol. 31. pp. 237-240. 2015.
[1] The study in Oregon did not separate collisions with fixed objects from collisions with people, hence the very high percentage of Fixed Object Collisions.