Emergency department visits secondary to amusement ride injuries in children

Randall T. Loder, Judy R. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Amusement rides are located not only in large amusement parks but also at local fairs and carnivals, in shopping malls, and at schools, and are even rented for private use. Millions of children in the United States participate in amusement rides annually. The amusement park industry has a vested interest in the safety of its equipment, and indeed, reports of severe injury or death are rare compared to the huge number of rides per year. Nonetheless, injuries severe enough to require an emergency department (ED) visit occur, and this study aims to quantify and describe those injuries in children. METHODS:: The code for amusement rides was used to cull data for children age 18 years and younger from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, part of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. This database includes a probability sample of hospital EDs in the United States from which national estimates can be calculated. Incidences of musculoskeletal injuries (fractures, dislocations, and sprains/strains) by age group as well as demographic variables were examined. RESULTS:: Extrapolated numbers indicate that approximately 9200 children are treated annually in a hospital-based ED secondary to an amusement ride injury. Average age is 8.5 years, with both sexes evenly represented. The vast majority of children (95%) are treated and released. Ninety percent of fractures and 81% of dislocations occurred in aged younger children (2-12 years), whereas sprains/strains were the most frequent musculoskeletal injury in adolescents. Fractures of the upper extremity are more prevalent than of the lower extremity, and the majority of fractures occur distal to the elbow or knee. CONCLUSIONS:: Catastrophic injury and death are rare secondary to amusement ride injuries, although those reports often make headline news. Less severe injuries are also uncommon; however, such injuries do occur, and there are little data describing the incidence or patterns of these injuries in children. This study, despite many limitations of the available data, provides the pediatric orthopaedic surgeon with information, which may, in turn, assist in continued advocacy efforts for safety within the amusement ride industry. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:: Level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-426
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Amusement rides
  • Fractures
  • Orthopaedic trauma
  • Pediatric trauma
  • Sprains/strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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