Sports: the young children are at greater risk of serious injury

Sports de glisse: les jeunes enfants seraient plus à risque de blessures graves

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts warned against the risk of fracture of the skull or of the face, which is three times higher among children of primary school age during the practice of a sliding sport.

December 10, 2019

Updated on December 11, 2019 at 0h45

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Sports: the young children are at greater risk of serious injury

Jean-Benoit Legault

The canadian Press

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Young children who practice skiing and snowboarding are more at risk than others to suffer injury to the head or neck, have warned of american researchers at a recent conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Robert McLoughlin, of the Faculty of medicine of the University of Massachusetts, and his colleagues reviewed the records of 845 children admitted to the hospital due to an injury suffered while practicing a sliding sport between 2009 and 2012.

They found that more than half of these children were in need of major surgery. The risk of fracture of the skull or of the face was three times higher among children of primary school age. The older children were, however, two times more likely to have suffered an abdominal injury.

One-quarter of the patients studied had been victims of an injury, intracranial, and this type of injury was more common in young children.

“The more they are young, the more they are at risk of falling, but at the same time, at least they are to protect themselves, said dr. Alexander Weil, who is a pediatric neurosurgeon at CHU Sainte-Justine. And at the same time, the shape of their neck and their head makes them more at risk of traumas.”

Several physical changes occur between the age of the baby and the adult, ” he continues.

“Big head, little body”

“The baby has a big head and a small body, especially up to the age of two, and a neck that is very mobile and flexible, with little support muscle, said dr. Weil. So it made it so that the more a child is young, especially in the bottom of two or three years, the more the head is big and heavy, plus the neck is small and weak, and at the same time their face is less developed.

“It makes it more vulnerable, for the same (accident), to different types of trauma. They are more at risk of neck injuries and head traumas by this difference in physiology. In the bottom of two or three years, a trauma head injury is more serious than in an older child.”

It cannot be stressed enough, says dr. Weil: wearing a helmet can prevent this type of injury, it saves lives and it protects the brain.

“Never going to say we are not encouraged to do sports, but of course it is necessary that this be done under proper supervision and on tracks that are appropriate for the age, he said. The most important thing is prevention, and prevention is achieved by prudence. For me, the message is that injuries in children are common (…) and therefore as a parent I have to be careful. The sport is important, it is important to be active, (…), but we must be careful and adapt the activities to the age. And it is absolutely necessary to wear a helmet. The younger the children, the more they should be careful. But it’s also important not to be afraid of these activities.”

According to Statistics Canada, by 2017, a little over 70 % of children of 12 years and over always wore a helmet for the practice of snowboarding, and a little over 80 % for the practice of skiing.

For its part, the canadian Institute for health information reports that the injuries sustained in ski and snowboard have been responsible for the hospitalization of 1717 Canadians in 2016-2017.

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