Doctors recommend all kids wear helmets while sledding

Shaleah Husted speaks out about sledding safety after her son suffered a head injury last year.

The medical community is advising children to wear helmets when sledding, saying that injuries can be just as severe as those related to skiing and snowboarding. 

According to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and Regions Hospital, a recent medical review found that head injuries accounted for nearly one-third of all sledding-related emergency room visits. The study also included the use of snow tubes and toboggans.

The data was collected from about 150 patients ages 5-19 who were treated for injuries sustained while sledding, downhill skiing or snowboarding from November 2013 to March 2015.

Last winter, 9-year-old Johsaun of Hastings, Minnesota, smashed into a bed of rocks while sledding. Today, he still struggles with vision loss and short-term memory loss.

Johsaun’s mother, Shaleah Husted, said she wants to make sure other families don’t have to go through similar trauma.

“My goal is to make sure other kids are safe and that they take extra precautions,” she said. “You don’t think of sledding as extreme or dangerous.”

Michael McGonigal, director of trauma services at Regions Hospital, said that while at a hill, children should take a look around.

“If you’re at a hill where you do have skiiers who are wearing helmets, you probably should consider that, as well,” he said.

Doctors said that each metro hospital sees a couple dozen sledding injuries per year.

If a child injures themselves on the sledding hill, parents should assess the situation and provide first aid if necessary. If symptoms or pain worsen, parents should schedule an appointment with a health care provider. For serious injuries, parents should immediately take their child to the emergency room or call 911.