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Playground Concussions Are on the Rise

Photograph by Twenty20

On the one hand, today's parents are being told playgrounds are too safe and kids don't have the opportunity to take risks and get hurt. On the other hand, this story from the Associated Press warns of the rise of concussions on the playground.

Looking at more than a decade of data gathered during the height of "helicopter parenting" years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, between the years 2001 and 2013, playground injuries in kids up to 14 years old was on the rise. Of almost 215,000 kids on average treated in emergency rooms every year, 10 percent (about 21,000) suffered non-fatal traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. Fatal head injuries were not included in the study.

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The rate climbed significantly over the years of the study. In 2005, 23 out of every 100,000 emergency room visit from playground injuries were diagnosed as a traumatic brain injury. That rate more than doubled to 48 out of every 100,000 in 2013—totaling around 30,000 kids that year.

These numbers don't necessarily mean kids are more clumsy or playgrounds are getting increasingly dangerous. Instead, CDC researchers say it may be attributed to a greater awareness of head injuries and the need to diagnose and treat them. The increase may also mean more kids are using playgrounds—overall, a pretty good thing.

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Just around 3 percent of the kids diagnosed with concussions required hopsitalization or transfer to specialiasts for further treatement. Most—95 percent—were sent home the same day. Kids in the 5 to 9 age range suffered around half of the injuries, and they were more common in boys.

The full study was published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

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