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Playgrounds Not All Fun And Games

Kids need exercise, health experts agree. They need fresh air and sunshine too. They certainly benefit from social interaction – the stuff of which friendships are made – with other kids. Where better to get all of them than at a playground?

Maybe … maybe not, a new study says.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus OH, agree there are many positives in playground activities. They want parents and guardians to remember, though, that playgrounds aren’t risk-free. During each of the past 10 years, they said recently, more than 213,000 children under age 18 have been treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for playground-related injuries.

A study detailing their findings is now available in the online edition of Clinical Pediatrics magazine.

Safety criteria, and the Sanatoga Park playground.

By this study's standards, the Sanatoga Park playground is a safer place for kids to play. It's fenced in, too.

The safest playgrounds, according to the study, use a shock-absorbing surface under and around play equipment, avoid large openings in which kids might get their heads caught, have guardrail barriers on platforms and ramps, and lack tripping hazards. Interested parents should note that the playground at Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township’s Sanatoga Park Sports Complex on South Park Road, Sanatoga, (pictured in the graphic above) seems to meet all those criteria.

The study also found:

  • Playground injuries occurred most often on climbers (36 percent), swings (30 percent), and slides (20 percent).
  • The majority of playground injuries occur to boys and girls between ages 5 and 12.
  • Most commonly injured were upper extremities like the upper and lower arm, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers (45 percent), followed by the head (15 percent) and face (13 percent).
  • Most common injury types included fractures (35 percent), bruises (20 percent), cuts (20 percent) and sprains and strains (11 percent). More than 75 percent of these injuries occurred from a fall.

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