New CDC Study Reveals Playground Concussions On The Rise

  • Post category:May 2016

Playground Concussions: CDC Researchers Found 5- to 9-Year-Old Boys Were More Likely To Sustain Head Injuries


As children in the northern states are warming up and heading out to the playgrounds, a new study suggests there are more children suffering playground concussions from a popular piece of playground equipment. The study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the journal, Pediatrics, showed non-fatal playground concussions are on the rise among kids 14 years old and younger. The number of children in that age group treated for concussions and other head traumas climbed from more than 18,000 in 2001 to 29,000 in 2013, according to the study. [, CDC, May 2016]

The CDC reviewed data from a national electronic injury surveillance system on injuries of children 14 years old and younger from 2001 to 2013. Researchers found an annual average of 21,101 children were treated in emergency rooms for playground-related traumatic brain injuries. The study classified a playground injury as a traumatic brain injury if the primary body part injured was the head and the child was diagnosed with either concussion or internal organ injury. Boys accounted for 58 percent of emergency room visits while 5- to 9-year-olds accounted for 50 percent. Concussions accounted for 10 percent of the injuries. Overall, 95 percent were treated and released, and 2.6 percent were hospitalized or transferred for further care.

[,, May 2, 2016]
The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury as a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Traumatic brain injuries that are mild are called, “concussions.” Concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fuzzy or blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping problems
  • Balance problems
  • Irritability


Two-thirds of the injuries took place at recreational sporting centers and school. Researchers also looked at the ages of children and type of equipment on which they sustained traumatic brain injuries that required emergency room visits:

  • Among children 0 to 4 years old, 31percent involved swings and 26 percent involved sliding boards
  • For children 5 to 9 years old, 34 percent involved monkey bars or playground gyms and 24 percent involved swings
  • Among children 10 to 14 years old, 34 percent involved swings and 29 percent involved monkey bars or playground gyms

The study noted that it is difficult to tell whether the rise in the number of playground-related injuries is due to an increase in kids participating in playground activities or parents becoming more aware of head injuries and taking their children to the emergency room.

The CDC researchers concluded that strategies are need to reduce the incidence and severity of playground-related traumatic brain injuries. The strategies could include improving playground safety by keeping the playground in good condition, using soft ground surfaces like wood chips rather than concrete, and providing more adult supervision.

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