Slides, Swings, and Automobiles

I’ve seen several reports in the news (including the New York Times) claiming that children are more likely to be seriously injured on playground equipment than they are in car crashes. These reports are based on a study in the July 2001 issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics. The study, however, confirms that motor vehicle injuries cause more ER visits, more hospital admissions, and more deaths than playground injuries.

I’ve seen several reports in the news (including the New York Times) claiming that children are more likely to be seriously injured on playground equipment than they are in car crashes. These reports are based on a study in the July 2001 issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics. The study, however, confirms that motor vehicle injuries cause more ER visits, more hospital admissions, and more deaths than playground injuries. The confusion comes because among those children that go to the emergency room, a higher proportion of playground injuries are moderate to severe. This means that parents are more comfortable handling minor playground injuries at home, not that playgrounds are more dangerous! Furthermore, the number of ER visits from playground injuries has fallen by almost half in the last 6 years. I’m strongly in favor of using softer playground surfaces and safer playground equipment, but I believe that not playing is more dangerous for our kids than playing. Active play is an important part of a healthy childhood, and I would hate for these reports to frighten anyone away from the joys of active play.

Published on: July 26, 2001
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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