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Tykes on Trikes Often End Up in ED with Injuries

AUGUSTA, GA – Pedaling a tricycle may not seem to be a daredevil act for a toddler, but it also isn’t completely harmless, as emergency physicians can attest.

In fact, a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics, points out that, in 2012, tricycle accidents were the leading cause of reported toy-related deaths in children.

Noting that little research has been conducted regarding tricycle-related injuries and how to counsel parents appropriately, a study led by researchers from the Medical College of Georgia used nationally representative data to investigate various characteristics of tricycle-related injuries in children presenting to emergency departments.

Pulling from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for calendar years 2012 and 2013, the study team collected data regarding tricycle injuries in children younger than 18 years of age, including body regions injured, ED disposition, and demographics.

Results indicate that an estimated 9,340 tricycle-related injuries were treated in US EDs from 2012 to 2013. With an average age at injury of 3, children 2 years old had the highest frequency of injuries, and children 1 to 2 years of age represented 51.9% of all injuries. Most, 63.6% of injuries, occurred in boys.

While lacerations were the most common type of injury overall, internal organ damage occurred most often in 3- and 5-year-olds. Contusions were the most common type of injury in both 1- and 7-year-olds.

The most commonly injured region of the body was the head, which also was most likely to suffer internal damage. As for fractures, those occurred most commonly in elbows, with upper extremities generally more often broken, compared to lower extremities.

About 2.4% of the children were admitted to the hospital after ED treatment.

Seeking to decrease ED visits for tricycles accidents, the study authors call for more use of elbow pads, helmets and greater supervision of children riding the toys. They also recommend some design changes to help make tricycles safer, such as limiting the turning radius or maximum speed, since most of the bikes don’t have brakes.

ED staff might consider reminding parents and caregivers of tricycle-injured children that, to avoid head injuries, the CDC recommends helmets for kids who ride tricycles as long as their neck muscles are developed enough to support them.

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