Purpose Greater than 200,000 children per year are evaluated in US emergency departments because of playground injuries. A minority of these visits (23%) occur on home playgrounds, whereas 70% of playground deaths occur at home. Few data exist to further describe injuries occurring on home and public playgrounds that are not life-threatening. In this study, we sought to determine if more serious injuries occur on home playgrounds compared with public playgrounds.
Methods An injury surveillance form was developed in our emergency department 2 years ago to identify several major types of injuries and to describe the circumstances leading to injury occurrence. These forms are included with every chart for children presenting to the emergency department with complaints of any type of injury. An assistant separated these forms by method of injury: sports, falls, bicycle, vehicle, playground, or burn. Epidemiologic data were extracted from each playground injury form and was then entered into Epistat® and a z-test of proportions was used for statistical analysis.
Results Between March and August 2006, 106 children were identified as having playground injuries. Of these, 56% were male and ages ranged from 2 to 15 years old, with a median age of 6. Most injuries occurred on public playgrounds (70%). The types of injuries sustained include fractures (48%), lacerations (19%), and closed head traumas (18%). The remaining 15% of injuries were relatively minor: sprains, strains, abrasions, and isolated pain. Admission was necessary for 9% of our population. When comparing injuries that occurred at home versus those that occurred at a public playground, there was no statistical difference in rate of admission (z = −0.23, p = .82 [−0.13, 0.11]). Between these two groups, we also found no statistical difference in numbers of fractures (z = 1.11, p = 0.27 [−0.35, 0.07]), in numbers of closed head traumas (z = 0.77, p = .44 [−0.08, 0.25]), or in numbers of lacerations (z = −0.16, p = .87 [−0.16, 0.17]).
Conclusion This information shows that in our population, the types of injuries that occur on home playgrounds are not more serious than those that occur on public playgrounds. Significant injuries do occur on both home and public playgrounds; 85% of the injuries children sustained in this study were fractures, closed head traumas, and lacerations. Increased effort should be applied to making playgrounds safer for children in both types of environments.
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