Crutches, Walkers, Wheelchairs Linked to Thousands of Injuries in Children

Injured or disabled children and teens are likely to use so-called mobility aids—crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs—in order to be able to move around, reports Science Daily. But, using these <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">devices could be placing this pediatric demographic at increased risk for injury.

Citing an emerging study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Science Daily wrote that more than 63,000 pediatric mobility aid-related injuries were treated in United States hospital emergency departments from 1991-2008. This represents an increase in the annual number of cases—by 23 percent—during the 19-year study period.

Study results appear both online and in the June print issue of the journal, Pediatrics, and indicate that the vast majority—60 percent—of mobility aid-related injuries involving children and teens occur at home.

Two injury patterns emerged and varied by mobility aid type. For instance, when children use crutches, they are likelier to be injured in the arms and legs and diagnosed with a strain or sprain, said Science Daily. Those children who use walkers or wheelchairs experience a greater likelihood of receiving head injuries, of experiencing a diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) (a three-fold likelihood), and of requiring hospitalization, said Science Daily.

“The associations between injury characteristics and type of mobility aid may be a result of the limitations of the children who were using the various aids. Crutch users typically have fewer cognitive, stability, and functional limitations than walker and wheelchair users,” explained study author Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, quoted Science Daily. “Likewise, children who fall while using crutches may be able to catch themselves with their feet or hands more easily than those who fall while using walkers or wheelchairs, thereby preventing injuries to the head but leading to more upper extremity injuries,” McKenzie added.

The data also revealed links between age and the injury type. Children aged 10 and younger comprised 42 percent of the cases and were likelier to receive head injuries and TBIs, said Science Daily. Children from the ages of 11 to 19 were likelier to experience lower extremity injuries and injuries involving sprains and strains. Transfer-related injury risk—injuries that occur when moving from one activity to another—saw an increase in older children, which could be attributable to caretakers experiencing challenges in lifting or carrying older children, pointed out Science Daily.

Misuse of mobility aids was also researched. For instance, trying out a friend’s crutches or wheelchair. Such misuse accounted for about eight percent of all cases and generally involved crutches, said Science Daily.

“Additional research is essential for identifying injury prevention strategies that are specific to the pediatric population and the particular mobility aids. Research on the underlying conditions and reasons for pediatric mobility aid use may expand the understanding of these injury patterns,” said Dr. McKenzie, also a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, quoted Science Daily.

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