Dr. Carl Weinert, a CHOC orthopaedic surgeon, treats many children who are hurt from falls off playground equipment. The most common playground and fall injuries are fractures to wrists and elbows, he says. In addition, falls from scooters, bikes and backyard trampolines are a big cause of injuries in children. Children also get injured in bounce houses, he noted.
Trampoline injuries are much more common when there are multiple children using the trampoline at once, Dr. Weinert says. As more kids climb on the trampoline, the risk of injury increases.
“Trampolines are far more dangerous if there is more than one child on it at a time because the recoil of the trampoline from one of the kids landing can launch another child off of it,” says Dr. Weinert.
Injuries incurred in bounce houses are frequently found in the elbow, Dr. Weinert says.
If you fall and try to force the elbow to bend backward instead of forward, it breaks, no matter how soft the surface is,” he says. “The most common injuries we see that need surgery are fractured elbows.”
Ailments that are more preventable are wrist and forearm injuries from skateboards and skates, Dr. Weinert says.
“Children should wear wrist guards,” he advises. “They are readily available and relatively inexpensive. Knee guards and elbow guards really only protect against scrapes.”
Signs of a serious injury from a fall can include lacerations, lots of swelling, an obvious broken bone or a bone protruding through the skin. If a parent notices any of these signs or if the child can’t walk, it’s time to see the doctor or emergency department quickly, says Dr. Weinert.
“These injuries can be emergencies and they need help as soon as possible to avoid infection and to get the best outcome,” he says. “The fracture starts to heal when the child hits the ground. The longer treatment is delayed, the harder treatment is and the more compromised the result.”
Orthopaedic specialists at CHOC can help. The CHOC Orthopaedic Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of complex orthopaedic injuries, illnesses and disorders in children and adolescents. To make an appointment, call 888-770-2462.