Spinal Injuries and Amputations Among Them
All-terrain vehicles are injuring about 4,500 young riders in the U.S. every year with an increasing number of spine injuries and amputations.
Those are the findings of two studies released Wednesday at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) annual meeting in New Orleans.
ATVs are already known for their high center of gravity, and their tendency to tip over, even a low speeds.
An earlier study found that between 2000 and 2005, there was a nearly 60 percent increase in ATV- related fatalities with injuries rising 48 percent.
These new studies reinforce the belief that ATVs should not be ridden by anyone under the age of 16, says the academy.
When production of the three-wheel ATVs stopped in 1987 because of safety concerns, a ban on sales of new or used three-wheel ATVs was proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Suzuki was the first to introduce the four-wheelers in 1985, an increasingly popular replacement, especially among young riders.
Authors from Loma Linda University Medical Center in California looked at emergency room records in California for off-road vehicle injuries from January 2005 through the end of 2007. There were about 110 patients with injures more than 10 times likely to need an amputation.
Common areas for amputation were legs, toes, and fingers as riders tried to brace themselves from a toppling vehicle.
The second study from the Campbell Clinic at the University of Tennessee, finds almost 4,500 young riders were injured in ATV-related accidents in 2006.
7.4 percent sustained a spine injury. That number is a 140 percent increase in the number of injuries since 1997, and a 467 percent increase in spinal injuries. The majority of injuries (70 percent) occur in children under the age of 16 and older girls suffered more spinal injuries than boys.
"A spine injury is such a devastating injury for a young person," said Dr. Jeffrey R. Sawyer, co-author on both papers, tells Business Week.
Among the injured children brought to a trauma center, nearly one-third needed surgery, even though they had been wearing helmets and protective gear, a third study finds that looked a motocross injuries.
Rise of ATV Popularity
While there were about 400,000 ATVs on the road in the mid 80s, that number today is estimated to be over 9 million vehicles.
And while the older models weighed about 250 pounds, the newer vehicles are much heavier and can approach speeds of 100 mph. They still have a high center of gravity which means they can turn over at speeds as low as 15 mph.
All-Terrain Vehicle Safety
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 254,000 ATV-related injuries that required treatment either in a hospital or emergency room in 2000.
The first month or riding, inexperienced ATV drivers have 13 times the average risk of injury says the CPSC.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons considers ATVs to be a significant public health risk. #