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Exploring Playground Injuries

Posted on Feb 03, 2020

Playgrounds are exciting places for children to be outdoors and active. However, each year more than 220,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries occurring on playgrounds. On this week’s On Call for All Kids, Drew Warnick, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, discusses playground injuries.

What are the most common causes of playground injuries?

  • Swings
  • Slides
  • Falls

What types of injuries do they cause?

These injuries can include sprains and strains, broken bones, dislocations and concussions.

How do we prevent these injuries from happening?

Close supervision by a responsible adult may be the most important factor in preventing playground injuries. The responsible adult should also assess the playground for soft ground (no asphalt or concrete) and no faulty equipment.

Your child should be wearing shoes and sunscreen. Remember that sun makes metal hot. Hot metal can burn your skin. Don't play on wet equipment either as it can cause a slip and fall.

Swings

  • Swing seats should be made of rubber or plastic.
  • Never stand on or jump off the swing.
  • Be careful when walking in front of moving swings. You do not want to get hit accidentally.
  • Only one person at a time should ride a spring rocker. Sit down while rocking.

Slides

  • Go down the slide one person at a time feet first.
  • Wait until the person in front of you is on the ground and has moved away from the slide.
  • Never climb up the front of the slide.
It is common for parents to want to slide down with a young child on their lap. This is very dangerous as a shoe can get caught in the slide and the force of the parent behind the child twists the leg, causing it to break.

Falls

  • Children fall because they slip, lose their grip or lose their balance while playing on playground equipment.
  • Climb stairs or steps slowly.
  • Hold onto the handrails, and don't climb over guard rails.

Monkey Bars

Most serious playground injuries are caused by a fall from monkey bars. Younger children don't have good upper arm strength and can easy slip and fall. They naturally protect themselves by falling on an outstretched hand and break the bones in the forearm or elbow. 
 
Make sure the supervising adult is in a position where you can catch the child or make sure that your child has sufficient arm strength before attempting monkey bars.
 
Drew Warnick, M.D., is on the medical staff of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Inc. (“JHACH”), but is an independent practitioner who is not an employee or agent of JHACH. On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Stories each Monday for the latest report.


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