More than 6,500 children injured by golf carts each year
In a nationwide study, a team at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia investigated golf cart-related injuries in children and adolescents and found the number of injuries has increased to more than 6,500 each year in the past few years, with just over half of the injuries in those ages 12 and younger.
The study, "Nationwide Injury Trends Due to Motorized Golf Carts Among the Pediatric Population: An Observational Study of the NEISS Database from 2010-2019," to be presented at the virtual American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, also assessed injuries based on sex, type of injury, injury location, injury severity, and event associated with the injury.
During the nearly 10-year study period, researchers found a total of 63,501 injuries to children and adolescents from golf carts, with a steady increase each year.
"I think it's important that we raise awareness of the severity and types of injuries that golf carts pose to children including pre-adolescents, so that greater prevention measures can be instituted in the future," said Dr. Theodore J. Ganley, director of CHOP's Sports Medicine and Performance Center and Chair of the AAP Section on Orthopedics.
Over the past decade, motorized golf carts have become increasingly popular and more widely available for recreational use at a variety of events. Regulations vary from state to state, but many places allow children as young as 14 to operate these vehicles with minimal oversight, paving the way for injury. In addition, children riding in golf carts driven by others can be thrown out and injured, or they can be seriously hurt if a golf cart rolls over.
Because of this troubling trend, researchers determined it was necessary to expand on previous reports exploring golf cart injuries from earlier time periods and to examine current injury patterns. In their new analysis, the researchers found:
- 50.8% of the injuries occurred in those ages 0-12 with the mean age of the population of 11.75 years.
- Injuries occurred more frequently in males than females.
- The most frequent injuries were superficial injuries. Fractures and dislocations, which are more severe, were the second most common set of injuries.
- Most injuries occurred in the head and neck.
- Most injuries were not severe, and most patients were treated and released by hospitals/medical care facilities.
- School and sporting events were the most frequent locations for injuries.
The updated data can be used to improve safety guidelines and regulations to help prevent injuries from motorized golf cart usage, especially in an at-risk pediatric population, the authors urge.