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Playground Concussions On the Rise

Every parent wants to feel secure that their kids are safe at school. But a recent study shows that playground concussions are on the rise. Find out what you need to know to keep your elementary school student safe.

Public schools do a lot to make parents feel their students are safe. By replacing outdated playground equipment, creating new school rules, and increasing staff monitors, many school districts across the state are trying to avoid student injuries.

Study Shows Increase in Playground Concussions

But those efforts may not be panning out. A new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that playground concussions increased from 2001 to 2013. The research team examined the “National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program” looking for emergency-room treatment of kids age 14 and under. Of the 215,000 kids treated for non-fatal injuries each year, nearly 10% (or 21,000 children) suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

The rate of playground concussions dropped from 2001 to 2005, when 23 out of every 100,000 kids suffered a traumatic brain injury. By 2013, that rate had jumped to 48 in 100,000.  Approximately 58% of those injuries were in boys. Half of all head injuries were suffered by kids ages 5-9.

What is less clear is whether that’s because children are less safe or parents are more aware of the risks. School staff and parents are often better informed about the risks of concussions and how to spot them. Researchers say the rise could reflect this increased awareness and the need for prompt treatment of playground concussions. It is also possible that more children are using playground equipment. Yale Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Katherine Holmes, explained:

“We recognize the symptoms earlier. . . . We recognize that these symptoms can have implications, and we’re paying attention to them more.”

The leading cause of traumatic brain injury is falls. That includes children falling from swings and monkey bars. Serious TBI can cause developmental delays, particularly if it remain untreated.

What Parents Can Do To Prevent Playground Concussions

To prevent injuries, researchers recommend:

  • Constant adult supervision;
  • Age-appropriate playground equipment;
  • Well-maintained playground equipment in good condition;
  • Soft ground surfaces like wood chips or sand, instead of concrete.

When a fall does happen, parents should observe their children for concussion symptoms. Holmes says:

“The go to serious things are: if they’re acting very sleepy, if they’re complaining of severe headaches, if they’re just not acting like themselves. . . . Get them right to the emergency room and play it safe.”

That includes not rushing them back to school or sports. When student-athletes get back into the game too soon, they run the risk of repeat injuries.

Student safety is important in school and out. Through proper safety measures and early detection policies, parents, teachers, and school administrators can make sure kids are safe while they play.

David Christensen is a personal injury attorney at Christensen Law. He represents the families of students injured due to schools’ negligence. If your child has suffered a serious injury on the playground, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.