Playing on a playground can be a fun and beneficial experience. Unfortunately, playground can also be a dangerous place. Each year, more than 200,000 kids under 14 years old are treated in emergency departments for playground-related injuries. If you have an elementary school child, it is important to understand some of the most common school playground injuries as well as how your child may avoid these injuries.
Fractures on School Playground
Fractures are among the most common playground-related injuries. One of the more common reasons for a fracture is a fall. This includes a fall off of the monkey bars, the swings, a slide, a merry-go-round, or other playground equipment. Children may also fall when they are struck by playground equipment, such as a swing or a seesaw. In some cases, the child will fall on an outstretched arm and fracture one of the arm bones.
To ensure proper healing, it is important for a broken bone to be treated as soon as possible. A bone sticking out is a clear indicator of a broken bone, but if the signs are less obvious, it might be harder to tell if your child has a broken bone. Other symptoms of a broken bone are swelling or bruising around the injured area, deformity, loss of function of the injured area, and pain in the injured area when it is moved or pressure is applied.
While these symptoms do not necessarily mean the bone is broken, if you think your child has a broken bone, take the child to a doctor or emergency room right away. The good news for a child with a broken bone is that most children’s broken bones can be treated without surgery, and because they are still developing, broken bones in children generally heal faster than broken bones in adults.
As a parent, there are several things you can do to reduce your child’s chances of suffering a broken bone. One of the keys is teaching your child playground safety. Schools should also be encouraging playground safety. While children will not always listen, if you enforce certain rules with them when you are with them, they will learn that these rules are important.
Tell them to not play on wet equipment. Have your child pay attention when walking in front of or behind other children who are playing on the swings. When using swings, make sure your child knows how to use them properly. Children who will not or cannot hold onto the swing properly should only use swings that they will not slip off of.
Concussions and TBIs on School Playground
Another serious playground injury is a concussion or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Although concussions and TBIs are not the exact same thing, the injuries are related. Unfortunately, the frequency of playground-related TBIs has increased in recent years. TBIs, which happen on playgrounds and that require an emergency room visit are most likely to happen in September, April, and May, while the weather is nicer and the school year is either just starting or about to end.
Anytime a child has suffered a fall on the head or a serious blow to the head, the child should visit an emergency room to make sure there is no serious damage. This is particularly true if the child lost consciousness, even just for a few seconds.
Even if the child has not lost consciousness, there are several other indicators that the child may have either a concussion or a TBI. These include a headache, memory loss, dizziness, confusion, difficulty processing things, balance problems, sensitivity to light, nausea, and sleep problems. These are not all the symptoms of a serious head injury, and sometimes symptoms will not appear right away. Because of this, it is best to have the child’s head checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible after the head injury, even if the typical signs of a concussion or TBI are not initially present.
If the concussion is mild, the child may just need to rest a few days and avoid any activities that may make the injury worse. The doctor may encourage you to wake up your child regularly in the beginning to make sure new symptoms have not appeared. In more severe cases, surgery and/or rehabilitation may be required.
Encourage your child to take the same precautions to avoid a head injury as the child would take to avoid a broken bone. It is also important to encourage your child to only slide down the slide. Children trying to go down a slide while other children are trying to climb up it could cause a collision, which may result in a concussion, a fracture, or other serious injury.
As a parent, there are other steps you can take to help ensure your child is safer on the playground. Well-maintained playground equipment is less-likely to cause injuries. If the equipment is broken or rusty, children are more likely to get hurt. Encourage the school to repair or replace equipment. Encourage the school to not allow children to play on broken or otherwise hazardous playground equipment. If possible, do your part to help maintain your child’s playground.
It is important to realize you cannot protect your child from every playground injury. They are going to fall and likely get some minor scrapes and bruises. The more precautions you take and that you encourage your child to take, the less-likely your child is to suffer any serious injuries, though.
If your child has suffered one of these injuries or other serious school playground injury, contact us.