More kids getting hurt in ATV accidents



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Posted on May 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Updated Saturday, May 8 at 3:24 PM

LA CONNER, Wash. - The all terrain vehicle sits in storage now. 

When 10-year old cousins Kaleb and Jeremiah were riding last fall, they clipped a pole and both boys were thrown. Kaleb's helmet fell off.

"I flew off and hit the sidewalk," he said.

Kaleb's mother got a call she'll never forget from his cousin's mom.

"She said he had bumped his head, and I was assuming it was stitches, but when I seen him brought in, he was unconscious," she said.

She says he spent the next few days in Harborview Medical Center's intensive care unit.

University of Washington surgeon Dr. Ron Maier, who is chief of surgery at Harborview, describes his head injuries.

"He received multiple skull fractures to both sides of the skull. He received facial fractures on both sides of his face," he said.

Dr. Maier says safety measures such as helmets, training, and insisting kids ride smaller ATV's can help, but they won't guarantee their safety.

"Someone who is too light to really manipulate the ATV because they don't have the body mass to actually keep the ATV stable and to make it safe in turns and maneuvers. It's guaranteed to be a phenomenally high risk for injury," said Dr. Maier.

Two new studies found a high rate of injuries from all terrain vehicles, including amputations and death. Twenty-eight percent of those injuries happened to children younger than 16. And spine injuries in kids jumped more than 400 percent from 1997 to 2006. 

Though Kaleb has been asking his mom to let him ride again, she says instead, he'll spend the next few months in occupational and speech therapy. 

"We have other family members that have them as well. But he's not allowed to ride them," she said.

The researchers found ATV's that are made to carry more than one rider posed an even higher risk of injuries that result in amputations and fractures.

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