Tag Archives: injuries

Motors and Kids-A Bad Mix (Archived Pedcast)


You can imagine in 34  years of practice, I have witnessed a lot of events, many terrifying and tragic for the children involved. I was reminded of one of those events recently when I was reading an article about ATVs or All Terrain Vehicles. Remember, I live in the south where ATVs and dirt bikes are popular in areas where there is a lot of open space. Many of my patients ride these vehicles with their very powerful engines. In my mind, powerful motors and children are a very bad mix. More on that in a few minutes. Continue reading

Car Seats Done Right (Article)

Cars can be dangerous for children, especially considering the vast amount of time they spend in and around them. This fact is borne out by statistics, year in and year out. In 2011 for instance, 148,000 children were injured in automobile accidents. A third of these children were not restrained by a car seat or seatbelt at the time of their injury. Amazing. Intoxicated drivers, poorly installed car seats, and simple carelessness make injuries and death of children in cars mostly preventable. Continue reading

Does your child walk “Distracted”? (Article)

A recent study done by Safe Kids Worldwide has found drastic increases in teenage injuries and fatalities linked to crossing the street carelessly. Although crossing the road is a part of many teenagers’ everyday routine, few give a second thought as to how risky this seemingly simple task may be. When children are young, parents regularly remind them to look both ways and hold hands before crossing the street.  Unfortunately, when the teenage years arrive, many teens throw all caution to the wind. Many teenagers, with their mindsets of invulnerability, take safety for granted and allow distractions to take priority over basic safety. Almost 80% of teens believe that pedestrian accidents affect mostly younger children, but in reality, older teenagers account for over half of street crossing fatalities in children up to nineteen years of age. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, pedestrian injuries among 16-19 year olds have increased by over 25% in the past five years. One in five high schoolers and one in eight middle schoolers cross the street while distracted.

What has caused this surprising and sudden increase in injuries and fatalities among teen walkers? All signs point to increased distractions by talking, texting, listening to music, and video games.. As technology becomes more prevalent in teenage culture, the danger of being distracted while walking increase greatly. 39% of distractions were attributed to texting, and another 39% were due to listening to music with ear buds in place. Another 20% of distractions occurred while talking on the phone, and the final 2% were linked to the use of hand-held video games. When a teenager becomes distracted by technology, the real world becomes blocked out, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Take time today to begin a conversation with your children about distracted walking, bike riding, or even driving, Convince your teen to put away the phone, put down the videogame, and take out the ear buds while moving. Hearing and seeing oncoming traffic might give them the few seconds they need to avoid disaster. Urge them to use all their senses, look both ways, and pay attention while crossing the street. While it is probably impossible to prevent all pedestrian injuries in children, increasing caution and decreasing distractions is a good place to start. Telling your teen to be careful while crossing the road may seem elementary and cliché, but it could save their life.

Your comments and stories are welcome at my blog, www.docsmo.com.  While you are there, take a few moments to explore the literally hundreds of audio posts, interviews, book reviews, and articles about pediatric topics. Until next time.

Smo Notes:

  1. http://www.safekids.org/infographic/how-does-teen-cross-road

Written collaboratively by Keri Register and Paul Smolen M.D.

Trampoline Truths (Pedcast)

Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, where we discuss child health topics ranging from the crib to the country club, from diapers to the diploma, from the bassinette to the boardroom.  Well, you get the idea.   I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen.  Hopefully, in today’s podcast, I can give you some useful information and get you to smile at the same time.  Today we are going to discuss the AAP’s recently published  statement about the dangers of trampolines … as any of my patients will tell you, this is one of my hot buttons.  I will be right up front: I don’t like trampolines as a toy for children because I see so many injuries on them….broken arms and legs, sprained ankles and necks, and even permanent neurologic injuries. Here is a DocSmo pearl for you- “ “There is no toy that is so much fun that it is worth the risk of your child sustaining a lifelong injury… none”  I think after you learn a few facts about trampolines in today’s podcast, you will see what I am talking about.

Here is a summary of what health experts say about trampolines from the AAP:

Jumping on a trampoline is dangerous, plain and simple.  Approximately 83,000 children a year in the US are injured jumping on trampolines.  You heard me, 83,000. When children jump, especially when multiple children play on the same trampoline, they are at risk of injuring their entire body.  Lower extremity injuries, mostly involving the ankle, account for about 50% of trampoline injuries.  Upper extremity injuries (most commonly bone fractures) account for about 35% of trampoline injuries, and usually occur when a child falls entirely off of the trampoline.  Head and/or neck injuries, the most frightening of them all, account for the final 15% of trampoline injuries, with 0.5% of trampoline injuries resulting in permanent neurologic damage.  (Although 0.5% may seem like a minuscule percentage, if your child is unlucky enough to be a part of that 0.5%, your family will be left 100% affected)

The three biggest causes of trampoline-related injuries are multiple children jumping at once, falling off of the trampoline, and collision with the trampoline frame and/or springs.  Because children younger than 6 years old typically have less developed motor skills and weigh less than the older children jumping with them, they are at greater risk of dislocating and/or breaking their bones.  Somersaulting and flipping increases the risk of head, neck, and spine injury, which can result in devastating and permanent consequences.

So here is DocSmo’s advice to parents about trampolines.  If you don’t have one, don’t get it.

If you do have a trampoline as I am sure many of your do, here are some important things you can do to minimize problems:

 Trampoline rules:

  1. The trampoline should be placed on a level surface (as close to the ground as possible) and in a hazard-free area
  2. Padding on the trampoline should cover both the frame and the springs and should be frequently inspected to make sure it is in good condition
  3. Children must be 6 years or older to use the trampoline
  4. Only one child is allowed on the trampoline at a time—not only is this the safest option, but it also provides your children with an opportunity to practice the art of sharing and turn-taking
  5. Somersaults and flips are not permitted under any circumstances
  6. 6.     Active supervision by adults willing and able to enforce the rules should occur at all times.    Remember, (Doc Smo pearl) “Adult Supervision” requires that adults actually supervise!!!!

Well, I hope that was helpful. Portable, practical, pediatrics is our goal with every post.  If you have a story about trampolines that you want to tell, or any comments you think our listeners would like to hear, take a moment to send a comment into my website, www.docsmo.com.  or post a comment on  iTunes.  Your feedback is invaluable.

This is Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, hoping your child’s backyard leaping doesn’t end in everyone weeping.  Until next time!

DocSmo.com now has interns helping with research and writing and I want to recognize Abbie Doelger for her contribution to this podcast today. She is a premed senior graduating from Davidson College. Thank you Abbie. Good job.

2010 Vital Statistics…Interesting (Article)

Recently I came across an article with some interesting statistics summarizing vital statistics in the US for 2010-2012.  Much of the news is very encouraging. The average life expectancy of an infant born in the US in 2010 was 78.7 years.  Said another way, this means that 50% of all children born in 2010 will live beyond 78.7 years.  I find that amazing. Remember, that life expectancy includes all the children who die from terrible genetic problems, congenital malformations such as complex heart problems, and prematurity shortly after birth.  Compared to our ancestors, we are incredibly sturdy creatures.


The 2010 data also revealed that the teen birth rate was at an historic low.  I think this is great news. I love the teens I care for but I must say, most are not equipped to be parents. Success in our culture requires sophisticated skills that most teens do not possess. Since average life expectancy is now 78.7 years, what’s the hurry to have children?  Interestingly, many mothers understand this, delaying childbirth to into their 30’s and even 40’s according to the 2010 data.



The  2010 data, once again, reveals that the great challenges to improving children’s health are the same as they have been for the past 50 years:  reducing or eliminating the number of children who are injured or killed by unintentional accidents or homicides.   Children are hospitalized far more often for accidental injury than any other cause.  It’s our responsibility as adults to keep them safe from burns, choking, automobile accidents, drownings. and the rest.  Lets roll up our sleeves and get to work. This time, numbers don’t lie.

Smo Notes:



Written by Catherine Wu and Paul Smolen MD.