The number of children treated in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries sustained on the playground has increased significantly in the last two decades. According to a new government study, the playground equipment most commonly involved in concussions included monkey bars and swings.
Most of the injuries studied were mild, but all concussions are potentially serious and researchers say the study raises public health and safety concerns.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention study states in 2005, 23 out of 100,000 kids had traumatic brain injuries, and that rate jumped to 48 out of 100,000 in 2013. By 2013, the annual total was almost 30,000 kids treated for these brain injuries.
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury typically resulting from a blow to the head that jostles the brain and temporarily disrupts brain function. Symptoms can last days or weeks and while most kids completely recover, repeated blows to the head have been linked with brain damage – most notably in some retired NFL players.
The rise may mean parents are becoming increasingly aware of the potential seriousness of concussions and the need for treatment.
The study does not say how kids get hurt but many concussions result from falls. The researchers’ recommendations include using soft ground surfaces including wood chips or sand, rather than concrete. The researchers say adult supervision is key to helping prevent these injuries. They also recommend checking to make sure playground equipment is in good condition. Finally, they recommend using playground equipment that is right for the child’s age.
The CDC study on playground concussions was published online in the journal Pediatrics.