OTTAWA, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - In just under a decade, hospitalizations
related to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in Canada increased by 25%, rising from
3,296 in 1996-1997 to 4,104 in 2004-2005, according to new analysis from the
Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). ATVs include both
snowmobiles and off-road vehicles. Snowmobile-related hospitalizations
decreased by almost 20% over nine years, while hospitalizations for injuries
related to off-road vehicles increased by two-thirds (66%), rising from nearly
1,700 admissions in 1996-1997 to more than 2,800 in 2004-2005.
"In many rural and remote communities across the country, snowmobiles and
other off-road vehicles are used not only for recreation, but also as an
essential mode of transportation," says Margaret Keresteci, Manager of
Clinical Registries at CIHI. "On average, 11 Canadians were hospitalized per
day in 2004-2005 because of ATV-related injuries. These machines can reach
high speeds and often travel on rough terrain, so the impact of a fall or a
collision can be quite dramatic."
In 2004-2005, the majority of those admitted to hospital for an injury
related to an ATV had multiple injuries, and more than half had fractures of
the upper or lower limbs. The proportion of head injuries was considerably
higher for those whose injury involved an off-road vehicle (19%) compared to a
snowmobile (12%), with those admitted for a snowmobile-related injury more
likely to suffer from a fractured vertebra, rib or sternum (26% compared to
20% for off-road vehicle admissions).
Teenagers and young adults at highest risk of injury
A person hospitalized for ATV-related injuries in 2004-2005 was, on
average, 32 years old. This is considerably younger than the average age for
all trauma admissions to hospital in Canada for the same year (53 years). In
each age group, males accounted for the majority of injury admissions, with
the largest proportion of injuries seen among 15- to 19-year-olds, followed by
20- to 24-year-olds. These two age groups accounted for more than one-fourth
(29%) of all ATV-related injury admissions.
When examining trends over time, the largest change is seen in the
20-to-24-year age group, which experienced a 41% increase in the number of
ATV-related injury admissions over the nine years of the study. Those aged 15
to 19 years experienced an 18% increase.
ATVs among leading recreation-related causes of severe trauma requiring
Overall, between 3% and 5% of all injuries requiring hospitalization are
classified as severe trauma and require treatment in a specialized facility.
Among ATV injuries, 10% were classified as severe in 2004-2005.
Snowmobile-related injuries accounted for 40% of winter sports and
recreation-related injuries in a specialized trauma unit in 2004-2005,
compared to snowboarding (24%), skiing (19%), hockey (11%), tobogganing (7%)
and ice-skating (3%). Off-road vehicles accounted for 25% of admissions for
summer sports and recreation-related severe injuries in 2004-2005, second only
to cycling (43%).
More than half of those admitted to a specialized trauma facility with
severe ATV-related injuries had sustained a head injury requiring treatment.
Many were also treated for fractures to the vertebrae, ribs or sternum (46%)
and internal injuries (45%).
In those cases where blood-alcohol concentration was recorded, 27% of
these severe injury ATV incidents involved alcohol levels above the legal
limit of .08%. Alcohol use above the legal limit was a factor in 23% of
specialized trauma unit admissions for snowmobiling incidents and 28% of
incidents involving off-road vehicles. Of those injured with alcohol levels
above the legal limit, 94% were the drivers.
ATV injury rate lowest in Ontario and British Columbia
In 2004-2005, ATV-related injury hospitalizations varied considerably
across Canada. The territories had the highest rate (per 100,000 population)
of both snowmobile and off-road vehicle-related hospitalizations, at 28.0 and
26.6, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, with 13.7 and 15.6. The lowest
rate of snowmobile-related hospitalizations was seen in Nova Scotia (1.7), and
Ontario had the lowest rate of off-road vehicle hospitalizations (4.9).
"Snowmobiles and off-road vehicles are used more frequently in some parts
of the country than others, and for different reasons, "says Keresteci." The
variations we see in injury rates may be, in part, a reflection of these
CIHI's analysis also examined legislation across provinces and
territories surrounding the use of ATVs, and found differences in age
restrictions and protective equipment requirements between jurisdictions.
ATV-related emergency department visits in Ontario
In addition to the injuries that resulted in an overnight stay in
hospital, in 2004-2005, there were 7,109 emergency department (ED) visits in
Ontario for injuries related to ATVs, translating to more than 19 visits to
the ED by Ontarians a day. Of these, 4,843 (68%) were due to injury resulting
from off-road vehicles. The vast majority of all ED visits were by males (80%)
and occurred during the months of January to March for snowmobiles and July to
September for off-road vehicles.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and
analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly
available. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments created
CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a
common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI's goal: to provide
timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI's data and reports inform
health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise
awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.
The report and the following table and figures are available from CIHI's
website at www.cihi.ca.
Figure 1. Age-Standardized Rate (per 100,000) of ATV Injury
Hospitalizations in Canada, 1996-1997 to 2004-2005 (Figure 1
in the analysis)
Figure 2. Number of ATV (Including Snowmobile) Injury Hospitalizations
in Canada by Age Group and Sex, 2004-2005 (Figure 2 in the
Figure 3. Serious ATV Injuries Treated in Specialized Trauma Units by
Type of Injury, 2004-2005 (Figure 7 in the analysis)
Figure 4. Age-Standardized Rate (per 100,000) of ATV Injury
Hospitalizations in Canada by Province and Territory (Figure 6
in the analysis), 2004-2005
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