School's Out for Summer – Time to Play It Cool on the Playground

ROSEMONT, Ill., June 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A swing across the monkey bars. A ride down the slide on mom’s lap. What starts out as a casual trip to the neighborhood or backyard playground, can often result in a trip to the emergency room. With playground season in full swing, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages parents and guardians to take a moment to familiarize themselves with the risks on playgrounds and ways to prevent injuries. Although minor bumps or bruises occur on playgrounds, many playground injuries, such as broken bones, dislocations and concussions, are more severe.

“After a challenging school year and months of being socially distanced and kept apart from their friends, children are eager to get outside and play,” said AAOS spokesperson and pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Rachel Y. Goldstein, MD, MPH, FAAOS. “We all want our children to play, but we also want them to be safe. With the start of summer, it is important to take steps to make sure no one ends their day at the playground with a trip to the hospital.”

Children benefit from getting outdoor exercise and developing balance, coordination, and confidence. Unfortunately, falls from jungle gyms, monkey bars, swings, or slides commonly can cause orthopaedic injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a child in a United States visits an emergency room for a playground-related injury every two-and-a-half minutes. What’s more, emergency departments see more than 220,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries each year.

“In a natural effort to protect themselves, children often will fall on an outstretched hand and break the bones involving the wrist or elbow,” added Dr. Goldstein. “By closely supervising children and making sure they are using equipment the way it is intended to be used, these injuries can be curbed. For example, no jumping from the swings and one person at a time on the slide.”

The AAOS recommends the following playground safety tips for parents:

  • Never go down a slide with a baby or toddler in your lap. The child’s foot can get caught underneath the adult’s leg causing a twisting injury. This can lead to a broken shinbone, which is known as a Toddler’s Fracture.
  • Steer children to age-appropriate playground equipment.
  • Check to see that there is enough space for children to easily get off the slide. Don’t let kids crowd around the exit areas.
  • Check the handgrips on monkey bars and other climbing devices to verify they are secure, and also shaped and sized for a child’s hand.
  • Swing seats should be made of plastic or rubber for a better grip.
  • Avoid any equipment that has openings that could entrap a child’s head.
  • Be sure you can always clearly see your children on the playground.
  • Avoid playgrounds that have concrete, asphalt, hard-packed dirt or grass play surfaces. The surface should be made of wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber for play equipment up to seven feet high.
  • Use care and caution in the sun. In hot weather, equipment exposed to direct sunlight can become hot, and potentially burn skin.
  • Remove tripping hazards such as exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, or rocks.

For children:

  • Play on dry equipment.
  • Hold on to handrails and climb stairs or steps slowly.
  • Slide one person at a time, sitting down and facing forward, and move away from the slide as soon as you reach the ground. Never climb up the front of the slide.
  • Do not cross in front of moving swings or teeter-totters.
  • Remove drawstrings and hoods from clothing that could catch on equipment.
  • Wear proper footwear to prevent splinters and cuts.

For more information about playground safety, visit OrthoInfo.org. To schedule an interview with an AAOS expert about common musculoskeletal injuries, email [email protected].

About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level to best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

Follow the AAOS on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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