Trauma injuries involving kids and sport usually cycling related
Researchers also learned 36 per cent of children seriously injured riding a bicycle were wearing helmet
When Dr. Robert Green began sifting through data gathered on kids seriously hurt playing sports and other activities, he assumed hockey would top the list.
A hockey dad himself, as well as a physical trauma specialist and critical care physician in Halifax, he knows first hand the rigours of the sport and the battering players take.
But when more than a decade of Nova Scotia data was crunched, he was so astonished at the result he went through it a second time.
"We found, remarkably, that hockey is number two, not number one. And it's a distant number two," says Green, who is medical director of Trauma Nova Scotia.
The new research, published last month in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, found cycling was the culprit in more than half off all Nova Scotia major trauma injuries involving kids and sport. Hockey, by contrast, made up just seven per cent.
Researchers looked at 107 cases over a 13-year period involving youngsters under 18 years of age who were seriously hurt while playing sports or some other recreational activity.
Injuries had to meet a certain threshold defined by the nationally recognized score code, or treatment involved the IWK Health Centre's pediatric trauma team.
Typical scenarios included serious head or chest injuries, or major breaks, such as to the femur bone.
Green says he's not entirely sure why so many kids are hurt on bicycles, but he makes certain presumptions based on his own experience.
'It's not cool'
"Certainly there's a lot of kids cycling, and a lot of them are just beginning to learn how to cycle," he says. "They get involved in traffic-related areas that put them at risk."
Delving into the data, researchers also learned something else: just 36 per cent of children seriously injured riding a bicycle were wearing a helmet.
Donning a helmet while cycling or skateboarding is law in Nova Scotia. However, Jeff Mayhew, owner of Sportswheels Sports Excellence in Lower Sackville, says it's become increasingly difficult to get kids to wear something to protect their heads.
That's a change from 15 years or so ago, when children and adolescents were kitted out in the latest helmets and pads.
These days he hears all the excuses, he says: it's not cool, it doesn't fit or it's too hot. But he says helmet styles haven't changed in a decade and manufacturers need to make something more kids want to strap their heads.
"The industry needs to come out with something more innovative to get kids to wear helmets," he says. "Maybe some new styles, some new looks. The traditional skateboard helmet's been around a long time and that's still the only thing that's really sticking in for the younger kids to wear."