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Playground Injuries on the Rise; More Children Treated for Traumatic Brain Injuries Despite Industry Improvements

The number of children treated in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries sustained at a playground increased significantly between 2005 and 2013, according to a new study to be published in the June 2016 issue of Pediatrics. On average, more than 21,100 children age 14 and younger were treated for traumatic brain injuries annually over a 12-year period, according to the report, “Nonfatal Playground-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Children,2001-2013.” The report, to be published online May 2, found that about two-thirds of the injuries occurred at schools and recreational sports facilities. The majority of those injured were treated and released. Males accounted for 58 percent of the hospital visits, and more than half of the children treated were between ages 5 and 9, according to the study. The research documented a total annual average of 214,883 playground injuries over the same period, despite industry standard improvements, such as playground surfacing that reduces the risk of injury and deaths from falls. Most injuries occurred on weekdays in April, May and September. Monkey bars, playground gyms and swings were the most frequently reported equipment associated with a traumatic brain injury. Factors that could account for the rise in emergency room visits include increased participation in playground activities or a heightened awareness of traumatic brain injuries and concussions. The study recommends that strategies be developed to strengthen adult supervision, reduce child risk behavior, maintain equipment, and improve playground surfaces and environments.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

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