Playground Preparation 101: Dealing with Injuries

Filed under: Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids

It is great that many parents and schools are promoting 60 minutes of vigorous daily activity for our kids. In the ideal situation, our kids will adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and daily activity. Unfortunately, vigorous exercise is often accompanied with some common aches and pains. Some parents have adopted an old school mentality and "kindly" tell their kids to push through, while others quiver at the slightest signs of discomfort. How do you know when something is serious enough to stop activity?

The problem is that we can't be expected to diagnose on the spot. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and consult a physician. In my practice, I always emphasize that parents should be aware of the potential dangers involved in the activities their kids participate in and to be prepared with an action plan.


Parents often take their kids to the local playground and watch their kids run around with other kids, go up and down slides and swing across the monkey bars. The fitness and health benefits are phenomenal. Their heart rates are elevated as they build strong muscles and joints and develop balance and body awareness. As well, the social benefit of playing outside with other kids is often understated.

Know the Facts
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reported that every year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. About 45 percent of playground-related injuries are severe -- fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations. About 75 percent of non-fatal injuries related to playground equipment occur on public playgrounds. Most occur at schools and daycare centers.

Parents, Be Prepared!
Knowing the facts enables you to be prepared. Find a way to tell your kids to be careful without scaring them away from being active and adventurous. I recommend all parents should either read up, or take a refresher course in Emergency First Aid. We must at least be aware of the first steps of first aid. For simple sprains, twists, bumps and bruises, use the RICE theory:

Rest the injured area.
Ice the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes several times for the first 24 hours.
Compression of the injured area using tensor bandages to reduce swelling.
Elevation of the injured area also allows for reduced swelling.

Parents should also be aware that some activities have a higher incidence of injury when done for the first time. Skiing and snow boarding are notorious for fractures, since falls are common. Parents should take the necessary precautions and ensure their kids are protected with helmets and wrist guards and have equipment that meets the current standard.

Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.