/ Blog/ Playground Concussion Risk Growing
When it comes to concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), people nowadays are far more aware of the risk of receiving one and the potential damage TBI can cause than they were just a few years ago. Thanks to activists like Bennet Omalu (the doctor portrayed in Concussion), news coverage of the billion-dollar settlement between the NFL and former players, and public awareness campaigns such as the CDC’s HEADS UP program, TBI is no longer the silent epidemic it once was. Research has not only gone a long way toward defining the problem, but has also identified better ways to treat this kind of injury, and new technology to prevent it is currently being tested.
Recent data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, finds that one group might be more at risk for TBI than previously realized: young children.
Led by a researcher at UCLA, the team looked at more than a decade’s worth of reports of playground injuries in children under the age of fourteen. The study found that each year, on average, more than 21,100 children in that group had suffered TBI in a playground accident between 2001 and 2013. Perhaps more worrying, the study revealed that this number has increased noticeably since 2006.
The research can’t say definitively what’s caused this increase, but it’s been suggested that more children are using playgrounds which have been poorly maintained or have broken equipment. It’s also possible that the uptick has something to do with general awareness of the problem, and that parents may now be more likely to take a child to a doctor after a serious fall because they’ve been educated about the risks. Parents may remember problems they themselves experienced from head injuries: A recent survey found that almost one in four Americans had suffered a concussion at some point in their lives.
Concussions (TBI) may now be a big concern, but other playground injuries continue to happen as well. In fact, concussions only make up about 3 percent of documented playground injuries. Broken bones, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains, and internal injuries all happen more frequently, and they can also be very serious. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 200,000 emergency room visits are made every year because of a playground or home play equipment injury. While most of these incidents are not life threatening, more than one hundred children die each year from these play injuries.
When it comes to the specifics of concussion, the good news in the CDC report is that only around 4 percent of the injuries are serious enough that a child is kept at the hospital for observation.
Parents, caregivers, and other supervising adults should be aware of the potential dangers. The CDC study noted that falls from monkey bars (gym sets) and swings combined for around two-thirds of the concussions. Slides contributed as well, and no piece of equipment can be considered completely safe (“other” accounted for more than 15 percent of injuries). This should neither be seen as a reason to panic, nor as justification to keep a child indoors all day or dress him or her in bubble wrap for a trip to the playground. Adults should simply understand where and how injuries take place and keep an eye on their youngsters. When a bad spill happens, they should be mindful of it, and if it’s serious, they should be willing to seek a medical evaluation for the child.
Wilson Kehoe Winingham has experience settling concussion and TBI cases for our clients. If you or someone close to you has been injured in this way due to the reckless actions or negligence of another, you owe it to yourself to discuss the situation with qualified counsel. Every case is unique, which is why we offer a free consultation. Give us a call at 317-920-6400 or contact us online today to arrange an appointment.
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