How to Prevent Common Play Injuries in Children

Childhood cplayground injuriesan be a wonderful time, but it can also be a dangerous period when children can get hurt from the normal activities associated with playing and just growing up.

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.

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Play It Safe

With summer in full swing, your little ones may be enjoying some fun in the sun at the local playground. It’s a great place to get exercise! Before you head out however, take a moment to make sure it is safe with these easy tips.

  • Check For Hidden Hazards — Look carefully for razor blades, broken glass, insects or snakes.


  • Examine the Equipment — Stay away from equipment with sharp points or broken edges. Playground equipment with moving parts, like seesaws, should be checked for pinch points that could pinch or crush a child’s finger or hand.


  • Check for heat – In the summertime, equipment can become dangerously hot, especially metal slides, handrails, and steps. Use your judgment – if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it’s probably not safe or fun to play on.


  • Ensure A Soft Landing — Make sure play equipment has at least 12 inches of mulch, wood chips, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber.


  • Remove All Strings — Never let your child play on equipment while wearing a backpack or clothing with strings.


  • Check Fencing – The fence surrounding a public playground should be in good condition to prevent kids from running into surrounding traffic.


  • Adult Supervision – This is key! Help prevent injuries by making sure kids properly use playground equipment and don’t engage in unsafe behavior around it. Teach them not to stand on swings, climb outside guardrails, and to slide down feet first. Remind them not to push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, and other equipment to avoid others from being injured too.  If an injury does occur, an adult can assist the child and administer any needed first aid right away. Young kids  (and older ones too, sometimes) can’t always gauge distances properly and aren’t capable of foreseeing dangerous situations by themselves. Older kids like to test their limits on the playground, so it’s important for an adult to be there to supervise.

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