Prevent Summer Camp and Playground Concussions - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on June 14, 2016

Prevent Summer Camp and Playground Concussions

Emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries annually among kids 14 and younger between 2001 and 2013.

Emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000
playground-related traumatic brain injuries
annually among kids 14 and younger
between 2001 and 2013.

As we head into summer vacation, there’s likely a look of pure joy on your children’s faces. School’s out, and their schedule for the next few months will consist of hours and hours of playtime with their friends on playgrounds or at summer camp.

But it isn’t always just fun and games.

Whether it’s day camp, an overnight camp or just an afternoon adventure on a rope course, there are hazards for children if they aren’t careful. Believe it or not, concussions have become much more common for kids in recent years. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of concussions among school-age children over the last few years. Specifically, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 playground-related traumatic brain injuries annually among kids 14 and younger between 2001 and 2013. According to the report, monkey bars, playground gyms and swings are the pieces of equipment on which head injuries occur most often.

For parents, this isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but it is cause to make sure you – and your child – are educated about how to protect their still-developing brains. Here’s how to keep the kids safe:

  • Make sure they’re supervised. Adult supervision, or at least the supervision of a trained camp counselor, is important. If the kids are headed to camp, make it a point to ask the head counselor about supervision, as well as what training camp counselors have received.
  • When you visit the camp ahead of signing up, notice the playground surfaces. Many camps today have soft surfaces such as shredded tires, mulch or sand. These types of surfaces can help Jimmy to have a soft landing when he goes sailing off the monkey bars.
  • Notice the condition of playground equipment. If swings, slides and monkey bars are rusting, or if swings are frayed, the equipment could break under the weight of children, leading to a potential injury.
  • Look for separate play areas for young and older children. Kids don’t need to be mean spirited to cause injury to a younger child; often, they simply don’t quite know their own strength or the ramifications putting a younger child into a potentially dangerous situation.
  • When your child heads to camp in the morning, remove any hoods or drawstrings from their clothing; these can get caught on equipment and cause a tumble.

Parents – as well as camp counselors – should know the symptoms of a concussion. If a child lands on or hits her head, an adult must monitor her behavior. If an injured child seems disoriented, is vomiting or loses consciousness, they need to be examined by a trained medical professional immediately.

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