CIHI: Pedestrian injury hospitalizations down 31% in 10 years

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Children and youth show biggest improvement, but older Canadians continue to suffer highest injury rates

May 9, 2007 – On average, nine Canadians were admitted to hospital every day for a pedestrian injury in 2004–2005, but the overall number of hospitalizations dropped significantly for such injuries over 10 years, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). The 2006 National Trauma Registry Injury Hospitalizations Highlights Report provides an overview of patients hospitalized due to trauma in all acute care facilities in Canada for 2004–2005 and includes a special focus on pedestrian injuries. This reportshows that hospital admissions for pedestrian injuries decreased from 4,516 to 3,117 between 1994 and 2005, a decline of 31%. Admission rates decreased by at least 30% for all age groups, but children and youth showed the greatest improvement, with a decline of 51% for all those under 20 years of age and a 62% decrease for children under the age of 5.

While pedestrian injury hospitalizations have declined for all age groups, older Canadians continue to sustain the greatest number of injuries as pedestrians and suffer the worst outcomes, according to the CIHI report. In 2004–2005, 928 people aged 60 years of age and older were admitted to hospital for pedestrian injuries, representing 30% of all admissions for such injuries. By comparison, this age group represents only 12% of the total population. In addition, older Canadians spent the longest amount of time in hospital for their injuries, with an average of 16 days compared to 7 for all age groups. Finally, 9% (82 people) aged 60 and over died in hospital from pedestrian injuries in 2004–2005, more than twice the national average.

“The good news is that admissions for pedestrian injuries are on the decline overall, especially for children. This might be the result of measures such as the speed limit reduction around schools and playgrounds, education about walking between parked cars and awareness about children in driveways. As well, car manufacturers have changed the design of bumpers to a rounded design which may have had an impact in reducing the severity of injuries when they happen,” says Margaret Keresteci, CIHI’s manager of Clinical Registries. “However, older Canadians are more vulnerable to serious injuries when involved in a pedestrian incident, which is of particular concern given the aging of the Canadian population.”

Young men have second highest risk of death

In 2004–2005, 696 young adults aged 20 to 39 were admitted to hospital for pedestrian injuries, the lowest number of admissions among all age groups. However, after Canadians over 60, young adults had the second highest number and proportion of in-hospital deaths, with 28 people dying as a result of their injuries, representing 20% of all in-hospital deaths from pedestrian injuries. This age group included the highest proportion of males (62%). Finally, the data show that injuries in young adults between 20 and 39 years of age were more likely to occur on a Saturday night (23%).

“Alcohol is a factor in pedestrian injuries, especially for young men,” explains Keresteci. “One third of all adult pedestrians who were tested for blood alcohol level when hospitalized for severe injuries were under the influence of alcohol in 2004. Among those, four out of five (82%) were young men.”

Demographic trends, context and type of injury

Overall, men were more likely to be admitted to hospital for a pedestrian injury, accounting for 55% of all admissions. The only exception was in the 60-and-up age group, where women represented 56% of admissions for this group.

The month of November saw the highest proportion of pedestrian injuries (12%), twice as much as in April, which had the lowest proportion (6%). The CIHI report found that most hospital admissions for pedestrian injuries in 2004–2005 occurred in daylight hours between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., on a weekday. The vast majority (94%) of these injuries occurred in urban places.

Orthopedic injuries were the most common type of injury sustained by pedestrians, accounting for 65% of all injuries, followed by internal organ injuries (24%) and head injuries (18%).

Overall trends in injury hospitalizations in Canada

In 2004–2005, 196,865 people were admitted to a Canadian hospital for traumatic injuries of all types. This represents a 1% increase from 2003–2004, and an 11% decrease since 1994–1995.

Among other highlights:

  • Unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury hospitalizations in 2004–2005, representing 57% of all trauma admissions (or 112,646 cases), followed by motor vehicle collisions (14% or 26,676).
  • Injury remains the leading cause of death in Canada for those under the age of 45 years and is a serious cause of disability.
  • Persons aged 65 and over accounted for 41% of all injury hospitalizations in 2004–2005. The vast majority (84%) of these hospitalizations were for unintentional falls.
  • Persons between the ages of 20 and 34 had the highest number of injury hospitalizations (3,633) due to homicide and purposefully inflicted injury.

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly available. Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments created CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI’s goal: to provide timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI’s data and reports inform health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health. www.cihi.ca