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Pediatric Health


Making the Summer a Safe One


Common summer injuries to avoid



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"...the number of injuries from monkey bars and trampolines together comprise nearly half of the injuries Dr. Kayes treats each year—particularly during the summer months.
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"A lot of injuries can be prevented, or at least minimized, with proper adult supervision," he said.
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June 01, 2011
The monkey bars are a favorite playground staple—and one of the leading causes of fractures in young children.

"Most people don't realize how dangerous monkey bars really are," said Kosmas Kayes, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent. "But we've treated many broken wrists, elbows and forearms that have resulted from accidents on the monkey bars."

In addition to the monkey bars, another outdoor play toy causes many breaks and fractures in children, trampolines.

Dr. Kayes said the risk of injury from trampolines is so high that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that trampolines should never be used at home or in outdoor playgrounds. The AAP supports limited use of trampolines in supervised training programs, such as gymnastics and diving classes.

That may seem extreme to some…until you realize that the number of injuries from monkey bars and trampolines together comprise nearly half of the injuries Dr. Kayes treats each year—particularly during the summer months.

And not too far behind are All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Many breaks come from behind the handlebars of ATVs and motorized scooters. "Anytime you add power to something, it becomes more dangerous," Dr. Kayes said.

In fact, in Indiana, it's illegal for anyone under 14-years-old to operate an ATV unless on a parent's land or under direct supervision of an adult 18 years of age or older.

"A study done on ATV and bicycle crashes reported that almost all ATV injuries occurred in children under the age of 16 years," Dr. Kayes shared. "And injury severity is higher for ATV crashes in terms of multiple injuries, need for surgical intervention, and longer length of stay."

As a firsthand witness to these injuries, Dr. Kayes strongly advises not allowing children to play on any of these so-called toys. However, if you decide to let your child play on the monkey bars, trampoline, or an ATV or motorized scooter, he does offer advice to minimize injuries and maximize safety.

First rule of safety for all three:Make sure you or another adult is supervising the child. "A lot of injuries can be prevented, or at least minimized, with proper adult supervision," he said.

Monkey Bars

• Upper body strength: Children really shouldn't attempt the monkey bars until they have the upper body strength to support their own weight and are tall enough to reach the bars on their own.

• No climb time: Climbing on top of the monkey bars is even more dangerous and shouldn't be allowed—ever.

• Safe ground surface: The landing under the monkey bars should be soft and thick enough to soften the impact of a fall. Organic mulch or rubber flooring is the most ideal—and concrete, asphalt and blacktop surfaces should be avoided at all times.

Trampolines

• One person at a time: "It won't prevent accidents, but it will sure lessen the likelihood of an injury, especially if the Kids are of different weight. Most injuries happen because of multiple participants," he shared.

• Safety net: While they've not proven to reduce injuries, they are still not a bad idea to prevent kids, especially little ones, from falling off.

• Cover up: Make sure shock-absorbing pads cover the trampoline's springs, hooks and frame.

• No circus tricks: Don't allow somersaults or flips on the trampoline—these can cause neck and spinal injuries, Dr. Kayes reported.

ATV/Motorized Scooters

• Similar to driving a car: Parents should approach driving an ATV or motorized scooter in much the same way as driving a car: with training! Formal training teaches drivers how to control ATVs and motorized scooters in typical situations. And, not surprisingly, drivers with training have a lower injury risk than drivers who have not been through proper training.

• Helmet—regardless of age: Many ATV and motorized scooter injuries are head injuries. Wearing a helmet may reduce the severity of these injuries. "There's just never a reason not to wear a helmet," Dr. Kayes said. "The risk of head injury is too high."

• Avoid double trouble: ATVs and motorized scooters are generally designed for one person. Adding another passenger can make them difficult for the driver to control—and lead to accidents and emergency room visits.

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Tags: In This Issue, Health, Kids, Parenting

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