What are the most common injuries among teens?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Here are the top things that we treat in the ER, where, you’ll remember, injuries are the second most common reason for teen visits:

Concussions and serious head trauma: Concussions occur in 1.1 million people a year, but even seeing stars from a minor head injury can lead to later memory loss. That’s because your brain is floating in a sea of liquid; when your head stops suddenly, your brain bashes against your skull, potentially damaging the sheaths that protect your neurons. And those damaged neurons are what could make you occasionally forget your mother’s birthday or the lyrics to the latest All-American Rejects song. Damage from repeated minor trauma, no matter how inconsequential it may seem at the time, can accumulate so that you suffer from mood changes and memory loss even twenty to forty years later.

Broken bones: The good news is that teen bones heal better than old folks’ bones. If it is a “buckle fracture,” or the kind that happens when you fall on a wrist extended to break your fall, it can be as simple as living in a cast for six weeks. Other fractures may be a bigger deal, as in a shattered pelvis from a car accident, which may involve months of casting and bed rest. Again, recoverable, but the missed school/life/activities make it a bummer.

Cuts that need stitches: It’s best to get these taken care of immediately, as infection can settle in if you wait too long to get to the emergency room. (Not getting to the ER for, say, eight hours would definitely qualify as “too long.”) Sutures are usually needed if the cut has jagged edges or is deep enough that it will not heal naturally in a useful way. Stitches have gotten sophisticated, with all sorts of medically safe forms, including dissolvable sutures and “skin glue” (no, not Elmer’s or Super Glue used on skin). Not near an ER? Call 911 anyway if you or a friend or family member has a cut that looks serious.   
YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life

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YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life

A few years ago, we wrote YOU: The Owner’s Manual, which taught people about the inner workings of their bodies—and how to keep them running strong. But you know what? There’s a big difference...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.