Over 4,400 kids are injured on amusement rides each year in the U.S., according to a new study.

The research was conducted by scientists in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and was published in Clinical Pediatrics.

The team set out to look at injuries to children associated with amusement rides, including:

  • fixed-site rides – rides at amusement parks
  • mobile rides – rides at fairs and festivals
  • mall rides – rides at local malls, stores, restaurants, or arcades

After analyzing data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), results showed that from 1990 to 2010, 92,885 kids under the age of 18 received treatment in emergency departments in the U.S. for amusement ride-related injuries.

This means that there are an average of 4,423 injuries each year associated with amusement rides, according to the experts.

Over 70% of the injuries took place during the warmer months – May through September – totaling to over 20 injuries each day.

Injuries occurred most often in the head and neck region (28%), followed by the arms (24%), face (18%) and legs (17%). The most common injury type was soft tissue injuries (29%), followed by strains and sprains (21%), cuts (20%), and broken bones (10%).

The overall percentage of injuries that needed hospitalization or observation was low, however, indicating that severe injuries are fairly unusual.

“However, during the summer months, May – September, there is an amusement ride-related injury that is serious enough to require hospitalization once every three days on average,” the authors added.

Children were most likely to be injured as the result of falling (32%), or by either hitting a body part on a ride or being hit by something while on the ride (18%).

Close to 33% of injuries took place on a fixed-site ride, followed by mobile rides (19%) and mall rides (12%).

Study author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said:

“Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-site rides is currently left to state or local governments leading to a fragmented system. A coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards.”

Injuries linked to mall rides differed from fixed-site and mobile rides. These rides were more likely to result in head/neck or face injuries, concussions/closed head injuries, or cuts.

Nearly 75% of the injuries due to mall rides took place when a child fell in, on, off, or against the ride. “These types of rides may be placed over hard surfaces and may not have child restraints, which contributes to the injury risk,” the researchers explained.

Dr. Smith, a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said:

“Injuries from smaller amusement rides located in malls, stores, restaurants and arcades are typically given less attention by legal and public health professionals than injuries from larger amusement park rides, yet our study showed that in the U.S. a child is treated in an emergency department, on average, every day for an injury from an amusement ride located in a mall, store, restaurant or arcade.”

We need to raise awareness of this issue and determine the best way to prevent injuries from these types of rides,” Dr. Smith concluded.

A previous study showed that the number of injuries from kids playing on motorized “toys” increased 86% from 1990 to 2003.

Written by Sarah Glynn