The most common injuries were broken bones, head injuries and abdominal injuries and occurred most often in 9- to 16-year-olds.
“Children in this area are not used to large snowfalls and sledding and don’t understand the potential for hitting objects at high velocity,” said Thomas Abramo, M.D., professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics.
Eight-year-old Mason Estes had been down the hill at a family friend’s property all day. He’d had a few scrapes and scratches, but on the last run of the day, he never made it down the hill to where his parents were waiting.
“His twin sister came down and said Mason hit a tree,” said Mason’s mother, Susan Estes. “My husband went up there and got him.”
The family thought the scrapes on Mason’s side were causing most of his pain and treated it at home with ice and Tylenol, but when he said he began having trouble breathing, they immediately took him to Horizon Medical Center in Dickson County.
“They did a CT scan and told us they would take him to Vanderbilt by LifeFlight,” Susan said. “It’s amazing that it went so quickly from what seemed like a minor injury to Mason possibly losing his kidney.”
Today doctors are watching fluid accumulation around Mason’s kidney. Another CT scan today will determine if he can heal on his own, or will need surgery.
“That ice was so fast, but who would ever think that sledding could cause you to potentially lose a kidney,” Estes said.
The family said they would not sled on the icy hills anymore, and certainly would pick a spot in the future with fewer trees or obstacles to avoid.
Abramo’s No. 1 tip for safe sledding is to sled feet-first rather than head-first.
He said it is also important to be careful around roads and parked cars and to understand the sledding equipment, especially knowing how to steer and brake.
“Children should be well-supervised by responsible adults, and adults should anticipate accidents and be prepared to respond,” he said.
More caution is also needed as conditions become icier today.
“The harder the surface, the faster the sled goes. On ice it is harder to stop and turn,” Abramo said.
More tips for safe sledding:
• Children should be supervised by an adult
• Sled feet-first
• Make sure the sled’s path does not cross traffic and is free from obstacles such as trees, fences, rocks and telephone poles
• Don’t intentionally run into others
• Never pull sled behind moving vehicle
Senior Information Officer
Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt