WEDNESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- More than 4,000 American
children are injured on amusement rides each year, according to a
new study that calls for standardized safety regulations.
Between 1990 and 2010, nearly 93,000 children under the age of
18 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for amusement-ride-related
injuries -- an average of nearly 4,500 injuries per year.
More than 70 percent of the injuries occurred from May through
September, which means that more than 20 injuries a day occurred
during these warm-weather months, said researchers at the Center
for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at
Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The head and neck region was the most frequently injured (28
percent), followed by the arms (24 percent), face (18 percent) and
legs (17 percent). The most common types of injuries were soft
tissue (29 percent), strains and sprains (21 percent), cuts (20
percent) and broken bones (10 percent).
The percentage of injuries that required hospitalization or
observation was low, suggesting that serious injuries are rare.
From May through September, however, an amusement-ride-related
injury serious enough to require hospitalization occurs an average
of once every three days, according to the study, which was
published online May 1 and in the May print issue of the journal
Youngsters were most likely to suffer injuries as a result of a
fall (32 percent) or by either hitting a part of their body on a
ride or being hit by something while riding (18 percent).
Thirty-three percent of injuries occurred on amusement park rides,
29 percent on mobile rides at fairs and festivals, and 12 percent
on rides at malls, stores, restaurants and arcades.
"Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has
jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-site rides is
currently left to state or local governments, leading to a
fragmented system," study senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of
the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a hospital news
release. "A coordinated national system would help us prevent
amusement-ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance
and more consistent enforcement of standards."
Smith and his colleagues also found that injuries on mall rides
are more likely to be head, neck or face injuries; concussions; or
cuts than injuries on fixed or mobile rides. Nearly three-fourths
of injuries on mall rides occurred when a child fell in, on, off or
against the ride. The researchers noted that mall rides often are
located above hard surfaces and may not have child restraints.
"Injuries from smaller amusement rides located in malls, stores,
restaurants and arcades are typically given less attention by legal
and public health professionals than injuries from larger amusement
park rides, yet our study showed that in the U.S. a child is
treated in an emergency department, on average, every day for an
injury from an amusement ride located in a mall, store, restaurant
or arcade," said Smith, who also is a professor of pediatrics at
the Ohio State University College of Medicine. "We need to raise
awareness of this issue, and determine the best way to prevent
injuries from these types of rides."
Smith and his colleagues offered the following amusement-ride
safety tips: Always follow all posted height, weight, age and health
restrictions, as well as all loading or seating-order
instructions.Always use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars,
and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.If you don't think your child will be able to follow the rules,
keep him or her off the ride. If you are worried about the safety
of a ride, don't let your child go on it.Do not let your child go on a mall ride if it is over a hard,
unpadded surface or if it does not have a child restraint such as a
The Amusement Safety Organization offers more
amusement-ride safety advice.