Bumper car accidents are ‘as bad as real crashes’, doctors warn

Bumper car accidents are ‘as bad as real crashes’: Doctors issue warning after eight-year-old girl’s lung collapsed when she was in a collision on the dodgems

  • The girl, in Marseille, France, was taken to hospital three days after the incident
  • Her condition worsened in hospital and she had to go into intensive care
  • Experts warn bumper cars can cause ‘severe’ chest injuries in children 

Bumper cars can be just as dangerous as real traffic accidents, doctors have warned.

An eight-year-old in France was left with a collapsed lung after being involved in a smash on the dodgems.

The unnamed girl’s condition worsened in hospital and she was whisked to intensive care and needed a nasal oxygen tube for a week.

In a report on the injury, medics said the dodgems – which usually travel at around five miles per hour (8kmh) – can cause ‘severe chest injuries’.

A X-ray revealed the lower half of the girl’s right lung had collapsed, which was making it difficult for her to breathe (pictured, the white cloudy area in the bottom left shows part of the lung which has no air in it after the collapse)

A CT scan also revealed the right lung (on the left of the image) was closed up and didn’t contain any air. The healthy lung can be seen to be well expanded and retaining its shape, whereas on the injured side the tissue is more clumped together

The unnamed schoolgirl, believed to be from Marseille, was taken to A&E suffering from chest pain and shortness of breath which was getting worse.

Three days earlier she had been to the fairground when the bumper car she was riding in was hit from behind, throwing her forward into the seatbelt.

The belt was wrapped around the lower half of her chest and may have contributed to the injury, the scientists said.

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‘Bumper car collisions have rarely been documented as a cause for serious trauma,’ they wrote in the journal Respiratory Medicine Case Reports.

‘We find they can be responsible for injuries as severe as seen in road traffic accidents which account for most chest trauma in children.’

An X-ray at Nord University Hospital in Marseille revealed the lower half of the girl’s right lung had collapsed.

Bruising and collapse of the lung can reduce the amount of oxygen being circulated in the body – a condition called hypoxia which causes coughing, sweating and confusion. 

Within a few hours of her being admitted to hospital her symptoms got worse and her breathing became rapid, so she was taken to intensive care.

A scan a week later revealed there was a lump of mucous trapped in her lung which was preventing her from breathing.

An eight-year-old in France was left with a collapsed lung after being involved in a smash on the dodgems (stock)

Chest physio hadn’t helped improve the girl’s ability to breathe and she needed steroids and a tube into her nose to feed oxygen into her lungs.

When the mucous was removed her right lung expanded back to its normal size and she made a ‘significant improvement’ within a week.

‘Severe trauma can occur even with low speed vehicles such as bumper cars,’ the researchers added.

‘With this case, we aim to raise awareness of the risk of severe chest injuries caused by bumper car collisions.’

Children are particularly vulnerable to injuries of this kind because their chests are more flexible than adults, so the lungs can be damaged without ribs getting broken.

Trauma to the chest is a major cause of injury and death among children worldwide, the researchers said, but only 0.2 per cent of chest injuries happen in amusement parks.

A fifth of injuries which do happen in amusement parks, however, are chest injuries and seven per cent of them happen on the bumper cars. 


A collapsed lung, also known as pneumothorax, happens when air escapes from the lung and fills the space around it, compressing the lung tissue so it can no longer expand when you breathe. 

This usually happens as a result of a chest injury or a hole in the lung, which can be caused by disease or damage from smoking.

Symptoms of a collapsed lung include a sharp, stabbing chest pain which gets worse when breathing deeply, or a dry hacking cough. 

If a lung isn’t working properly it can restrict how much oxygen is circulated around the body, potentially leading to a condition called hypoxia, which can cause shallow, rapid breathing, a heartbeat which is unusually fast or slow, and confusion.

Collapsed lungs are usually treated by draining the escaped air out of the chest and then reinflating the lung.

Source: eMedicine 

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