Gear up before revving up ATVs

July 14, 2008

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Fourteen-year old Cristian Avina knows all too well the devastating injuries all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can cause. Four months ago, Cristian and his sister, Rociel, hopped on an ATV for a little innocent fun in the desert near their home. Cristian was riding tandem with his sister when a bird flew into them causing him to lose control. The ATV crashed, sending Cristian and Rociel flying--neither was wearing a helmet. Cristian suffered serious head injuries, including an amputated ear.

"This has been a nightmare," said Martha Avina, Cristian and Rociel's mother. "Rociel was not badly hurt and went for help. Upon her return, she saw that her brother had been pecked at and his severed ear had been partially eaten by vultures. Cristian's ear could not be reattached--reconstructive plastic surgery to rebuild it started this summer."

Whether on vacation or out for recreation, many adults and children are hopping on ATVs for some warm weather fun. But ATVs are not toys. They can go more than 60 miles per hour, weigh more than 700 pounds and tip over easily. In fact, more than 135,000 Americans are injured in ATV-related accidents each year, 30 percent of them children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports.

The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) are urging ATV riders, especially parents and children, to be more cautious and follow safety tips to help reduce the incidence of ATV-related injuries.

"Unfortunately, cases like Cristian's are not uncommon," said ASMS President Andrew Wexler, MD. "It will take multiple reconstructive surgeries--attaching an implant, providing soft tissue coverage and skin grafting--to rebuild Cristian's ear. Each year, plastic surgeons treat thousands of patients with severe head trauma, eye injuries, disfiguring lacerations and facial fractures from ATV accidents. These debilitating injuries may be avoided by following a few safety tips."

Plastic surgeons strongly recommend following the CPSC safety tips for ATV riders: "When it comes to protective gear, it's especially important to wear a helmet, since many ATV-related injuries involve trauma to the head and face," said ASPS President Richard D'Amico, MD. "Studies show helmets can reduce non-fatal head injuries by 64 percent and deaths by 42 percent."

"ATVs can be treacherous and difficult to steer. They are not like riding a bicycle," said Dr. Wexler. "The injuries we see from these machines can be devastating."
-end-
The American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons is the oldest organization representing maxillofacial plastic surgeons. The members of the ASMS are surgeons of high moral and ethical standing and professional attainment, who are experts in craniofacial restoration. The mission of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons is to advance the science and practice of surgery of the facial region and the craniofacial skeleton. The Society accomplishes its mission through excellence in education and research, and through advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 6,700 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. For more information, please visit www.plasticsurgery.org.Editor's Note: Christian Avina and other patients injured in ATV-related accidents, and their plastic surgeons, are available for media interviews.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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