Preventing playground injuries: The fine line between safe and overprotective

Comply with me at @drClaire

When my kids had been little, their favourite factor to play on on the native playground was a giant yellow climbing construction. There was a platform that was excessive off the bottom, with varied ladders to climb up in addition to two slides (one straight and one curvy) and a pole to slip down or climb up. There have been even some monkey bars main as much as it on one facet. It may very well be a citadel or a pirate ship or an area ship, and climbing it or mastering the monkey bars was a giant, pride-filled milestone. It was superior.

Once they renovated the park, they took it down. “There’s nothing good there anymore,” stated my youngest. “It’s all little child stuff.” Every part within the playground now’s near the bottom — and exhausting to get damage on.

It made me unhappy.

Don’t get me mistaken — as a father or mother and pediatrician, I need kids to be protected on the playground. Between 1996 and 2005, US emergency rooms handled about 200,000 kids a 12 months for playground accidents, which is quite a bit. I fear particularly about traumatic mind accidents (TBI) reminiscent of concussions, as they’ll have long-term penalties; a examine simply launched within the journal Pediatrics confirmed that between 2001 and 2013, there have been 21,000 emergency room visits a 12 months for TBI’s in kids 14 years outdated and youthful.

The examine confirmed that the variety of playground TBIs seen in emergency rooms rose between 2005 and 2013 — nevertheless it’s not clear whether or not that’s as a result of there have been really extra of them or whether or not each dad and mom and medical doctors had been turning into extra conscious of and anxious about concussions. The truth that greater than 95% of the youngsters had been handled and launched, which means that the accidents had been minor, helps this clarification. Till comparatively just lately, most dad and mom wouldn’t have introduced their baby to the emergency room for a head bump until the kid misplaced consciousness, wanted stitches or in any other case appeared very unwell; head bumps had been thought of a traditional a part of childhood.

We now perceive that head bumps will be extra harmful than we realized, and we’re extra cautious at playgrounds (and in sports activities). That’s why the yellow climbing construction got here down, I’m positive; the examine discovered that taking part in on these, and swings, was the largest reason behind TBI. However as a father or mother and pediatrician, I feel we should be cautious with being cautious.

Concussions shouldn’t be a traditional a part of childhood, and playgrounds ought to be protected. However being protected isn’t simply an surroundings factor; it’s additionally a discovered ability. Youngsters have to study what and the place the hazards are, and easy methods to keep away from them. They should study their limitations — and study when to respect them, and when to push them.

These aren’t simply security classes, they’re life classes. Life is filled with problem and threat. And whether or not it’s a damaged arm or a damaged coronary heart, generally we get damage as we study to satisfy these challenges and dangers.

So in fact, let’s make our playgrounds protected. Let’s be certain there are delicate surfaces beneath climbing constructions and swings. Let’s ensure that gear is maintained correctly. Let’s ensure that caregivers supervise kids. Let’s educate folks on the indicators of concussion, and on what to do in the event that they see these indicators.

However let’s not get overprotective within the course of. Let’s not take down all of the excessive climbing constructions or massive swings — and particularly, let’s not cease our kids from doing something that is likely to be dangerous. As a result of the dangers will all the time be there — and we received’t all the time be there to look at them. It’s higher they apply now, on a playground, with us close by.

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