Doctors offer sledding safety tips after child suffers serious head injury

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Every year, hospital emergency rooms fill up with children who get hurt while sledding.

According to the National Safety Council, some 20,000 children are injured every single year in sledding incidents.

Dr. Harold Lovvorn, a pediatric surgeon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said as of Tuesday morning following the big snow storm, there were at least four children who were hurt badly enough that they were admitted to the hospital.

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According to hospital officials, sledding injuries can lead to a multitude of cuts, bruises, and broken bones. The body part most frequently injured in sledding incidents, however, is the head.

That was the case Monday afternoon in Williamson County, where first responders told News 2
a 10-year-old boy lost control of his sled and slammed his head into a concrete culvert. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

“The child is making an appropriate recovery after surgery to reduce a hematoma,” Lovvorn said, adding there are multiple safeguards for sledding.

First and foremost, he recommends sledding in a safe area.

“We want to reduce the number of trees, rocks, cliffs,” Lovvorn said.

The bottom of the hill is important to be obstacle free as well. Parents and children should look out for ponds, parked cars, and mailboxes to name a few hazards.

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Lovvorn also recommends children sit upright with their feet forward for better control and visibility. Once you reach the bottom of the hill, Lovvorn stresses you climb the hill on the outside so you don’t get hit by others sledding down the hill.

“I know some kids have fractured legs by being hit by other sledders,” he said.

Above all else, experts recommend you wear a helmet. Even a bike helmet is acceptable.

Parents are also reminded to supervise their children at all times and to provide them with proper safety equipment.

Lovvorn also asks you to avoid wearing a dangling scarf, because it can cause strangulation or neck injuries while sledding.

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Garbage can lids, laundry baskets, kayaks, cookie sheets, etc. should not be used as substitutes for sleds. Choose a sled in good condition with no sharp edges. The safest sleds allow your child to control the direction and brake, according to Lovvorn.

Officials advise you to never pull a sled with a motorized vehicle, as towing sleds can result in serious injuries or death.

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