Experts Want Kids To Enjoy Outdoor Warm Weather Activities But Remind Them To Put Safety First

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Trauma experts at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC want to remind kids and parents to use caution to prevent dangerous injuries that can accompany a return of outdoor activities.

The re-emergence of warmer weather in Pittsburgh brings with it an increased chance of springtime traumas.

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As kids make their way outside to ride their bikes, scooters and rollerblades, every curve and bump in the road can lead to an injury. Any wheeled activity can lead to a fall and serious injury, and that chance increases after winter when leftover salt and cinders, as well as potholes, become added obstacles. Each year, more than 275 trauma patients are admitted to Children's in April and May.

"After a long Pittsburgh winter most kids are anxious to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather," said Barbara Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "May is the start of the busiest time of year for traumas. Because the weather is warm and the days are longer, kids playing outside more in the spring and summer than the other seasons. But if they aren't careful and don't wear helmets and other protective gear, they could end up spending those warm spring days in the emergency room."

Nationwide, more than 285,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bike-related injuries in 2003, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Nearly half of the kids who are hospitalized with bike injuries sustain traumatic brain injuries. "We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet while using any wheeled device, whether bikes, skateboards or scooters," Dr. Gaines said. "Brain injuries are often life-threatening and life-changing. They account for up to 80 percent of bicycle-related fatalities, yet only one in five children admitted to Children's for bike injuries was wearing a helmet when the injury occurred."

Recently, Children's and other Pennsylvania trauma centers helped the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation celebrate 20 years since the accreditation of the first trauma centers. Children's is the only accredited Level 1 pediatric trauma program in the region and one of only three in Pennsylvania. Because of the expertise provided at Children's, it has become one of the busiest pediatric trauma centers in the country.

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