Small watercraft injuries in children

Elizabeth A. Beierle, Mike K. Chen, Max R. Langham, David W. Kays, James L. Talbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The speed and use of small watercraft have increased dramatically in recent years. We report our experience with pediatric trauma resulting from small watercraft accidents. We conducted a retrospective chart review including all children admitted with injuries sustained in small watercraft accidents. Sixteen children were included; nine were injured in jet ski accidents and seven in accidents involving other craft. Jet ski accidents tended to result in more serious injuries (closed-head injuries, hollow and solid viscus injuries, chest trauma, spinal injuries leading to paralysis, and death) than those sustained in accidents with small boats. Skin and soft-tissue injuries and long-bone fractures were the most frequent injuries following accidents with other small boats. Six of eight children (75%) injured on jet skis required operative interventions. Only three of seven (43%) children in other watercraft accidents required surgery (P < 0.05 jet ski vs other watercraft). When compared with children injured in accidents involving small boats those involved in jet ski accidents tended to have more serious injuries and require operative intervention more frequently. A high index of suspicion for serious injuries must be maintained when evaluating children with this mechanism of injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-538
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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