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Mobility aid devices lead to injury: study

May 26, 2010

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Although wheelchairs, walkers and crutches are intended to help people with injuries, a new study from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH, suggests these mobility devices are associated with an increasing number of injuries among children.

According to a study abstract, more than 63,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to mobility aids between 1991 and 2008. The annual number of cases increased 23 percent over the course of the study.

Children using crutches were most likely to sprain or strain their extremities, and more likely to sustain head injuries while using wheelchairs or walkers. The children were 3 times as likely to suffer traumatic brain injury and most likely to be hospitalized for their injuries, which researchers say may be attributable to the functional limitations of wheelchair and walker users.

Research found that misuse -- such as other children trying a friend's crutches or standing on a wheelchair -- was responsible for 8 percent of all injury cases.

The results were published online in the May 24 edition of the journal Pediatrics.

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