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Playground Injuries Facts and Statistics

Author Susan Harr

Children love playgrounds- a magical place where they can get away from the pressures of pre-school, let their imaginations roam, and play uninhibited with their friends. Parents also love playgrounds- they are a perfect outlet for a kid's high energy, promote healthy social interaction, and provide hours of free entertainment. But it's not all fun and games- each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Playground Accident Causes

Because of the nature of playgrounds, some types of accidents are more common than others. Information below provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

Falls

  • Approximately 79% of equipment-related injuries are caused by falls.
  • These falls can occur when a child: slips, loses their grip, or loses their balance while playing on monkey bars, swings, slides, merry-go-rounds, and seesaws.
  • Often, a child will fall on their outstretched hand trying to protect themselves, and sustain a fracture involving the elbow.
  • This type of elbow fracture (supracondylar fracture of the humerus) is the most common injury that requires a trip to the operating room for treatment.
  • Often children are hurt not only by the fall, but by being struck by the equipment as they fall.
  • Something as simple as drawstrings from a hooded sweatshirt can catch on a piece of playground equipment and can lead to a fall.
  • Other injuries include falls that result from being struck by the same equipment the child was playing with, or as a result of being struck with moving equipment.

Slides

  • A 2009 study found a relationship between shinbone (tibia) fractures and young children going down a slide on the lap of an adult.
  • In many of these cases, the child's leg became stuck, but the adult and child could not stop moving down the slide.
  • In other cases, the child's leg became twisted during the ride down.

Other Causes

  • A child may be injured on a teeter-totter or seesaw.
  • Injuries may result from contact with sharp edges of equipment or impact with stationary equipment.
  • A child may fall after being struck with some type of equipment other than what the child was playing on.

Types of Injuries

Many children experience skinned knees, scrapes, and bruises in the course of regular play activity. These types of minor injuries are considered normal. But, according to the CDC, approximately 45% of playground injuries are severe. These injuries may include:

  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Internal injuries
  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Amputations

Playground Accident Prevention

Information below provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Check your child’s clothing- Clothing items can become trapped in equipment and may result in strangulation. Remove drawstrings and other cords from clothing. In the winter, use a neck warmer rather than a scarf, and use mitten clips rather than cords.
  • Beware of bicycle helmets- Bicycle helmets should not be worn by children on playground equipment due to the potential for entrapment and strangulation.
  • Choose the right playground- Choose playgrounds that ‘fit’ your child. Children five years of age and younger should use only playgrounds designed for preschool children.
  • Supervise, supervise, supervise- Children younger than five years of age and those with health problems should always be supervised while playing on a playground.

CDC Playground Accident Statistics

  • About 75% of nonfatal injuries related to playground equipment occur on public playgrounds.
  • Most playground accident occur at schools and daycare centers.
  • Girls sustain injuries (55%) slightly more often than boys (45%).
  • Children ages 5 to 9 have higher rates of emergency department visits for playground injuries than any other age group.
  • Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children ages 14 and younger died from playground-related injuries. Of them, 82 (56%) died from strangulation and 31 (20%) died from falls to the playground surface. Most of these deaths (70%) occurred on home playgrounds.
Contact An Experienced Child Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys, we have the experience and resources to handle your child’s case. If your child has been the victim of a serious injury, contact our offices. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

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