According to media reports, the 16-year-old girl was sledding down a hill with her twin sister when the girls’ sled crashed into a tree. The teen suffered a brain injury and was airlifted to the children’s hospital, where she later died. It does not appear that her sister was injured in the accident.

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According to Dr. Barbara Gaines, the hospital’s director of trauma and injury prevention, the tragic accident makes it clear that parents need to start thinking of sledding in a different way. “Sledding has this connotation of innocence – fresh snow, rosy-faced kids going down hills on their sleds,” she told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But you have to recognize that there is a potential for harm.”

Dr. Gaines says that the hospital usually treats between 10 and 20 children and teens for sledding injuries after each heavy snowfall. Common injuries include broken bones and the more serious head traumas, which can have life-altering repercussions.

In order to prevent those injuries from occurring, Dr. Gaines recommends that children and teens wear helmets when they sled, and that parents inspect sledding hills for possible hazards, such as trees or easy access to a road, before allowing children to sled down them.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh warns of sledding dangers,” Chris Togneri, Dec. 30, 2012

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