Summer is peak season for wheel- and water-related injuries

Number of cycling injuries remains stable over past decade but head injuries on the decline

OTTAWA, July 28, 2011 /CNW/ - Every day of the summer, an average of 45 Canadians are hospitalized for an injury resulting from a wheel- or water-based sport or recreational activity, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Wheeled sports include cycling, roller skating, skateboarding and using scooters, while water-related activities include swimming, diving, kayaking and boating, among others.

"Summer is a great time to be active and enjoy the outdoors, but it is also a peak period for motor vehicle injuries and trauma related to wheel and water sports," says Greg Webster, Director of Primary Health Care Information and Clinical Registries at CIHI. "It's important to ensure that individuals and their family members use the proper equipment, follow the rules of the road or water and play safe while being active this summer."

CIHI data shows that cycling injuries are by far the most common injury from summer sports and recreational activity, accounting for half of all hospital admissions in this category. In 2009-2010, 4,324 Canadians were hospitalized as a result of a cycling injury, with close to half of these injuries occurring in June, July and August.

While the annual number of cycling injury hospitalizations remained relatively stable between 2001-2002 and 2009-2010, the number of cycling-related head injuries decreased significantly, from 907 to 665, over the same period. Among the most severe cycling injury admissions of the past decade (those requiring admission to a special trauma centre), 78% of those hospitalized with a head injury were not wearing a helmet when their injury occurred.

"While the number of cycling injuries has remained static over the past decade, the good news is that many studies are showing that the widespread use of helmets has resulted in fewer serious head injuries among children," says Pamela Fuselli, Executive Director of Safe Kids Canada. "Even with the proper equipment, however, cyclists and motorists need to remain vigilant when they are out on roads and recreational trails. It's really important to get outside and play, but it's equally important to do so safely."

Between 2001-2002 and 2009-2010, hospital admissions for cycling injuries were most common among children and youth younger than 20 (42%), with 10- to 14-year-old boys hospitalized the most frequently.

Among the provinces, in 2009-2010, cycling injury age-adjusted hospitalization rates were highest in British Columbia and Alberta and lowest in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Other highlights from CIHI's most recent trauma data:

  • During June, July and August, an average of 194 deaths occurred every year in Canada from all motor vehicle collisions, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) collisions and summer sports and recreational activities.
  • The number of serious injuries involving ATVs is growing faster than that for any other major type of wheel- or water-based activity. In 2009-2010, there were 3,386 hospitalizations for ATV injuries across Canada—a 31% increase since 2001-2002. Those at highest risk of injury were young men age 15 to 24.
  • Motor vehicle collisions still represent the number two cause of injury in Canada, second only to falls, with 18,964 hospitalizations in 2009-2010. However, this number has declined significantly (21%) from 2001-2002. The summer months, August in particular, and the Christmas season represent peak periods for motor vehicle collisions.
  • The number of water-related injuries has remained relatively stable since 2001-2002, with 331 injuries occurring in 2009-2010.