A new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that professional athletes aren’t the only ones at risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In fact, TBI can also happen to our kids. The CDC study found that an average of over 21,000 children under age 15 were treated for TBI as a result of playground injuries each year.
Playground Injuries Are Common
TBI isn’t the only common playground-related injury. Emergency rooms across the US treat over 200,000 children per year who were injured in various playground accidents.
- Severe injuries on playground equipment account for about 45% of all injuries to children – including broken bones, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and even amputations.
- Most nonfatal playground injuries occur at schools, daycare centers, and on public playgrounds. Accidents on playgrounds are the leading cause of injury in school-aged children.
- Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children under age 15 died from playground-related accidents. To put that number in perspective, it means that 1 or 2 children die every month from playground injuries
- Playground injuries also have a financial impact. The CDC estimates that in 2007 alone, more than $6.8 billion was spent on treating playground injuries.
Types of Playground Injuries
Different types of playgrounds lend themselves to different injuries to watch out for. There are three broad categories for playground injuries.
- Falls – These are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries to children, making up 79% of all equipment-related injuries. Kids can lose their grip on monkey bars, tumble off of swings, fall onto other pieces of equipment like guardrails, or drop off of seesaws, causing a broken bone or TBI.
- Slides – Slides are most dangerous when a child slides down on the lap of an adult. Slide injuries include shinbone fractures and arms or legs becoming twisted on the playground equipment on the ride down.
- Other Common Causes – Poorly maintained, damaged, and rusty equipment in playgrounds can cause a host of injuries including cuts, impacts with other equipment, or strangulation caused by clothing catching on equipment.
How to Make Kids Safer on Playgrounds
Like most prevention tactics, keeping kids safe on playgrounds is a lot easier, cheaper, and less painful than dealing with injuries after the fact.
- Check playground equipment – Before you let your child get on public playground equipment, check it for loose guardrails, rust, sharp edges, or any other necessary repairs. Check the height of monkey bars and other climbing areas – your child is at a much higher risk of injury falling from five feet or higher.
- Make sure kids wear the right gear – Don’t let kids go barefoot on any playground equipment. Shoes that fit well are best for preventing slips. Make sure your child’s clothing, including jackets, doesn’t have drawstrings that can catch on equipment and strangle him or her.
- Supervise kids, even at home – Lack of supervision is blamed for 40% of playground injuries. Don’t let children play on wet equipment where slips can easily occur. Instruct your children to go down the slide one child at a time and never headfirst. Tell your kids to sit on swings, not stand – and remind them not to walk too close to people who are swinging. Make sure you always have a sight line to your children.
- Act quickly – If your child does fall, be aware of the warning signs of a possible TBI – vomiting, behavior changes, or loss of consciousness – and get him or her to the emergency room as quickly as possible if you notice these signs.
If your child has incurred TBI or another medical problem due to one of these playground injuries, talk to one of our personal injury lawyers. You may be entitled to compensation.