New research published in the Pediatrics Medical Journal suggests that an increasing amount of children are suffering traumatic brain injuries on the playground.
In an effort to gauge the injury rates of children on playground equipment, researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control examined reasons for hospital admissions for children under the age of 14 between the years 2005 and 2013. Researchers said their findings suggest that more children are visiting emergency rooms for head injuries as a result of trauma on a playground than in recent decades. Here’s a closer look at some of the data from the study:
- In 2005, about 21,000 children a year were admitted to a hospital as a result of a head injury suffered on a playground. In 2013, that average yearly number had risen to about 30,000.
- The most likely playground equipment for a child to suffer a traumatic brain injury on were the swings and the monkey bars.
- Boys accounted for 58.6 percent of playground TBIs.
- Children between the ages of 5 and 9 suffered the most TBIs, accounting for 50.6 percent of all playground TBIs.
- Thankfully, the vast majority of children were able to recover from their head injuries without long term damage. Researchers found that 95.6 percent were treated and released from the hospital without further care.
Why The Increase?
So why has their been such a noticeable uptick in traumatic brain injuries on playground equipment? After all, playgrounds have been equipped with monkey bars and swing sets for decades. Researchers stopped short of listing definitive reasons, but they had two theories, and they are both rooted in good intentions.
For starters, researchers believe that children today are getting more time on the playground than in past decades. It’s great that kids are getting more time outside on the jungle gym, and if that’s true, then it should come as no surprise that there’s been a spike in traumatic brain injuries. Their second suggestion is that as a society, we’ve become more cognizant of the dangers of head injuries, especially in young brains that are still developing. Researchers believe parents today are more likely to take their child into the emergency room if they’ve bumped their head than in years past.
“It is also plausible that heightened public awareness of TBI and concussions has prompted parents to seek medical care for their children in the event of a head injury, when previously they would not have done so,” the authors wrote.
That said, researchers also noted that there’s still plenty that can be done to ensure children stay safe when at the playground.
“Improvements in playground environmental safety that also address design, surfacing, and maintenance can help accomplish this,” the study authors concluded.