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Water-Tubing Injuries on the Rise

FRIDAY Feb. 15, 2013 -- Water-tubing injuries in the United States increased by nearly 250 percent over 19 years, a new study finds.

The number of injuries rose from less than 2,100 in 1991 to more than 7,200 in 2009, according to researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

More than 83 percent of the injuries occurred during summer months, which means that more than 65 tubing-related injuries are treated daily in U.S. emergency departments during the summer, the study authors said.

In water tubing, people ride on an inner tube that's pulled by a boat. The activity has become increasingly popular over the years.

"Water-tubing can be a fun and exciting activity," study co-author Lara McKenzie said in a hospital news release. "However, the increasing number of injuries is concerning and results from a participant's position on the water tube, lack of directional control, velocity and the number of riders per water tube."

The areas of the body most frequently injured during tubing were the head (27 percent) and arms and legs (24 percent). Sprains and strains (27 percent) and soft-tissue injuries (20 percent) were the most common types of injury. Meanwhile, the most common causes of injury were impact with the water (49 percent) and contact with another person who was water-tubing (16 percent).

Children and teens were more likely than adults to suffer head injuries and to be injured as a result of contact with another person. Adults were more likely than children and teens to injure their knees, suffer sprains or strains, and to be injured as a result of water impact.

The higher number of head injuries among children and teens may be because they're more likely than adults to have multiple riders on a single tube, according to the study, which was published in the February issue of the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

"Following basic safety guidelines, such as sticking to the manufacturer's recommendations for the number of riders per water tube; being responsible while riding the water tube and while operating the boat; and always wearing a personal flotation device can help prevent water-tubing-related injuries," McKenzie said.

More information

The Recreational Boating Industry offers water-tubing safety tips.

Posted: February 2013


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