When a child takes a fall, they may impact their growth plate. What is it? “It’s a [developing] area of the long bone, like the femur or tibia that contributes to the length of your body,” says Dr. Lalonde. Located close to a joint, including the hip, knee or ankle, the growth plate remains open until age 15 for girls and age 17 for boys.
“Wrists splints in skateboarding and certain roller skating activities would prevent a lot of fractures, especially growth plate fractures,” says Dr. Lalonde. “It only takes a few minutes to put on, doesn’t limit the enjoyment of the activity and can go a long way in preventing a fracture. And when trotting on the trampoline, to avoid crashes, there should only be one child on at a time.”
IS IT BROKEN?
If it looks crooked or there’s a significant amount of swelling, you may be dealing with a broken bone, says Dr. Lalonde. “In general, if you touch the bone and your child jumps from the pain, you should get an X-ray,” he says, adding that some fracture patterns are pretty subtle and go unnoticed for several days.
If it seems like a mild injury, parents can:
- Apply ice
- Provide a temporary splint
- Check-in with primary doctor the next day
- The length of time that it takes for a growth plate fracture to heal: 3 to 6 weeks
- The percentage of childhood injuries that affect the growth plate: 15-30%
- The number of children 14 and under treated in the ER for trampoline related injuries: 80,000
PHYSICIAN FOCUS: DR. FRANCOIS LALONDE
Dr. Lalonde is the director of the hip program at CHOC Children’s. In addition to his medical degree, Dr. Lalonde has a master’s in medical education. He is one of 10 orthopedic surgeons in the U.S. selected to participate in the American Orthopedic Surgeons Leadership Fellow Program and he is on the board of the California Orthopedic Association.
Dr. Lalonde’s philosophy of care: “Family and patient engagement. I want them to understand they have options and engage them in their treatment plan so they can recover as quickly as possible.
University of Toronto School of Medicine
This article was featured in the Orange County Register on October 14, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.