Dr Campbell: Spring is ER season for kids

RALEIGH, N.C. – Spring is here, summer is right around the corner and kids are now outside and engaging in all kinds of outdoor sports and activities. With increased activity, there are also increased numbers of injuries requiring visits to the emergency room.

Doctors typically see nearly twice the numbers of injuries in June as compared to the winter. Injuries start to spike in April when things warm up and peak in mid-summer.

Emergency room visits are common for playground and sports injuries—other common injuries include scooter-related injuries, as well as trampoline and bike injures. The most common types of injuries include broken bones, bruises and strained ligaments. Most injuries occur in children between eight and 18 years of age.

With the change in the weather, bikes come out and sports activities are in full swing. Many children are growing and must get used to dealing with growth spurts and changes in their weight and height.

Awkward stages of growth can result in reduced coordination and an increased likelihood of falling and injury. Certainly, though, it’s much better for kids to be out and active rather than sedentary and obese.

The long cold winter also contributes to the increased rate of spring and summer sports injuries. Many kids are not able to begin training for their sports early and this can result in injury.

In addition, adolescents are generally more prone to injuries during growth spurts because, unlike adults, children’s bones have growth plates, or specialized areas of cartilage that allow for long bone growth.

Cartilage is not a sturdy and as stable as bone which makes these areas more likely to break. In addition, hormonal changes during growth spurts can make these areas of weakness in the bones even more unstable. When growth spurts occur, long bones may grow faster than the supporting soft tissues and muscles that help stabilize joints and that makes injury more likely.

If your child does happen to break a bone, broken bones in children heal much faster. For instance, a broken wrist in a child can heal in only four to six weeks and almost never require surgery. In an adult these fractures are much more likely to require surgery and may take up to 12 weeks to heal. Children have much better circulation and also are always growing new bone at faster rates—thus promoting quicker healing.

The best way to prevent injury is to make sure to wear appropriate gear—helmets for bikes and scooters, and proper footwear is essential to avoiding toe injuries, trips and falls. Remind kids that they may not have the exact same skills that they had a year earlier—they may need to re-learn swimming or riding skills as they revisit activities from the previous year.

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