Aim: This retrospective cohort study reported on the epidemiology of horse-related injuries for patients presenting to the only tertiary paediatric trauma hospital in Queensland. The secondary outcome was to examine the use of helmets and adult supervision. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) was examined in relation to helmet use. Morbidity and mortality were also recorded.
Methods: Included were all patients presenting with any horse-related trauma to the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane from January 2008 to August 2014. Data were retrospectively collected on patient demographics, hospital length of stay (LOS), mechanism of injury (MOI), safety precautions taken, diagnoses and surgical procedures performed.
Results: Included in the analysis were 187 incidents involving 171 patients. Most patients were aged 12-14years (36.9%) and female (84.5%). The most common MOI were falls while riding horses (97.1%). Mild TBI (24.6%) and upper limb fractures (20.9%) were common injuries sustained. Patients who wore helmets had significantly reduced hospital LOS and severity of TBI when compared with those who did not wear helmets (P<0.001 and P=0.028, respectively). Morbidity was reported in 7.5% of patients. There were three deaths in Queensland.
Conclusion: Helmet use is recommended for non-riders when handling horses, in addition to being a compulsory requirement whilst horse riding. Prompts in documentation may assist doctors to record the use of safety attire and adult supervision. This will allow future studies to further investigate these factors in relation to clinical outcomes.