Playground Concussions On The Rise: Monkey Bars And Swings Causing Brain Injuries Among Kids, Finds Study

Kids are increasingly getting concussions on the playground. According to a recently concluded study, the majority of the head injuries are more than likely to happen when the kids are playing on monkey bars or swings.

With summers approaching and temperatures getting warmer, many kids are expected to be spending a lot of their time at the playground. However, new data indicates, along with the playtime, concussions too, are on the rise. Moreover, when it comes to getting injured on the playground, monkey bars and swings seem to be the biggest culprits, sending most of the kids to the hospitals or emergency wards for treatments ranging from mild scrapes to severe brain trauma.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that concussions need not necessarily happen when your kids are playing contact sports. The report dismisses the longtime myth that brain injuries only happen during sports like football or soccer. Parents are used to hearing about concussions in the NFL, college and even high school football, and hence have come to associate head injuries with such sports.

While concussions are a huge risk for kids when they play such intense sports which involve aggressive body contact, the report shows kids are being increasingly sent to hospitals when playing on a playground, which was assumed quite safe and relatively harmless.

An increasing number of U.S. children need treatment for traumatic brain injuries such as concussions from injuries on the playground, reported CBC News. The concerning rise is observed despite multiple improvements in playground equipment. Researchers discovered the trend after studying national data from 2001 through 2013 chronicling playground injuries sustained by kids aged 14 and younger. These kids received emergency-room treatment and hence their medical history provided ample data about the injury and the cause.

The study published online Monday in Pediatrics indicates that annually, almost 215,000 kids sustain injuries of varying seriousness. What’s more concerning is that nearly 10 percent of these kids had to be brought in for traumatic brain injuries including concussions. CDC noted that majority of the injuries reported were quite mild and hence parents need not panic, but concussions should never be taken lightly.

Who is the most vulnerable? Any kid below the age of 14 is susceptible; however, kids aged between five and nine are the most vulnerable, found the study. Statistically speaking, these children accounted for nearly 51 percent of the playground-related visits to emergency for a traumatic brain injury.

Interestingly, the report discovered that girls don’t play cautiously, as could be considered a common assumption. Of all the kids sent to the emergency ward for treatment, only 58 percent were boys and the rest, 42 percent, were girls. The researchers observed that the number of visits as well as accidents involving a grievous impact to the brain, due to incidents on playgrounds, is rising, shared Dr. Tabitha Cheng of the UCLA emergency medicine department in Los Angeles.

“The annual rate of traumatic brain injury emergency department visits increased significantly from 2005 to 2013.”

Can these playground concussions be prevented? Researchers suggest using soft ground surfaces such as wood chips and sand rather than concrete, reported AOL. Regular safety checks of playground equipment are critical to ensuring reliable performance. However, the most critical aspect in avoiding a visit to the Emergency Room (ER) is a vigilant parent. Adult supervision is key to prevent injuries, noted the researchers. Parents should limit their kids’ access to playground equipment that is age-appropriate and ensure it is in good working condition.

Incidentally, the rise in concussions reported may be due to enhanced awareness among parents, note researchers, reported WMUR. Their vigilance, as well as awareness about the possible hidden and long-term dangers of head injuries, might be compelling more parents to rush their kids to the hospital, they added.

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