Sudbury Regional Hospital's emergency and trauma programs are warning all terrain vehicle (ATV) users to exercise caution this summer.
With the growing popularity of ATVs comes a growth in injuries relating to their use, according to to a press release from the hospital.
At the hospital, the contribution of ATV crashes to major trauma cases has increased by 400 per cent since 2007.
“People must recognize that ATV’s are heavy, powerful machines that can be difficult to operate safely, particularly by children and young adolescents,” Dr. Steven Socransky, the medical director of the hospital's trauma program, said in a press release.
“They require strength, training, special skills and knowledge that must be learned over a period of time.”
According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, the number of ATV-related injuries severe enough to require hospitalization jumped 50 per cent in Canada between 1996 and 2001, with 36 per cent of hospitalizations occurring among children and youth.
Stats Canada numbers show ATV and other off-road motor vehicles rank as the fourth most common cause of injury-related deaths among Canadian children and youth aged five to 19 years.
“Youth model” ATVs are shown to carry a higher risk of injury to those younger than 16 years than comparative adult data. Evidence suggests that the risk of significant injury to a child is at least six times higher when riding an ATV compared to riding in a conventional motor vehicle.
Northern Ontario continues to have a high regional hospitalization rate for sports and recreational injury in all age categories. ATV-related activities remain one of the most common causes of major injury, accounting for 13 per cent of all sports and recreational major trauma admissions.
The most commonly cited cause of local ATV incidents is “loss of control,” into which speed, inexperience and alcohol often factor, the hospital press release said.
Injuries resulting from ATV rollovers and/or collisions may include brain/head injuries, chest injuries, spinal cord injuries, and multiple body region injuries which include broken bones and abdominal trauma. Lack of helmet use and improper apparel are commonly cited as factors that help determine the severity of injury.
“Having identified that we have a higher rate of hospitalization for these types of injuries in the north, we have a responsibility to try to reduce them,” Socransky said.
“As the use of ATV’s expands the temptation is to relax our vigilance – our experience in the ED tells us we cannot afford to do so.”
The hospital reminds people to never consume alcohol or intoxicants before operating any motor vehicle.
It also urges the use of good sense while operating ATV’s, recommends proper gear such as helmets, eye protection and appropriate clothing (boots, gloves, long pants), and strongly encourages proper supervision, training and education.