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How Dangerous are Playgrounds?

Most adults have fond memories of playing on the school or local park’s playground as children. The playground is where we met our friends, used our imaginations, and could expend all of our youthful energy in a relatively safe location. Most playgrounds we used contained the same equipment: Monkey bars, ladders and slides, and other such equipment. Although as children adults may have fallen off of the top of the slide or lost their grips on a set of monkey bars and injured themselves, the playground was rarely considered “dangerous” or “unsafe.” Has this changed in recent times? New statistics suggest that playgrounds are becoming less safe, but is this the whole story?

What the New Statistics Show

According to statistics published in Pediatrics and reported in, the incidence rate of playground-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in children under the age of 14 years has increased significantly. These statistics find that between 2001 and 2013 approximately 21,100 children per year were seen in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related traumatic brain injuries. The lowest number in a given year came in 2005, when only 13,720 children were seen. In 2012, the number spiked to 32,020 (more than double the 2005 numbers) and reduced only slightly, to 29,410 in 2013. Monkey bars and swings were the pieces of playground equipment most often associated with childhood TBI (monkey bars and swings were each involved in 28 percent of childhood playground TBI cases).

What is Going On Behind the Statistics

As alarming as these statistics may be, the article suggests there may be more going on than meets the eye. A casual observer may conclude that playgrounds are indeed becoming more dangerous because of the increase in the number of playground-related TBIs. However, as points out, there can be other explanations for the rise in TBI incidents on the playground:

  • Hospitals and doctors’ offices have become much more specific in “coding” certain injuries. In the past a playground fall may have simply been coded as a “head injury,” whereas now the accepted practice is to be much more specific. It is quite possible that the number of playground head injuries in previous years was just as great – if not even greater – than present-day numbers, but the coding practices did not exist to classify these injuries as “playground head injuries” or “playground traumatic brain injury.”
  • Parents are much more concerned about head injuries thanks to educational programs and efforts designed to raise awareness about the long- and short-term effects of head injuries in children. In other words, parents are more concerned today about head injuries and thus more likely to take the child to the doctor’s office or hospital for evaluation.

If your child suffers a playground-related TBI or head injury, prompt medical evaluation and treatment is crucial. A TBI caused by the negligent design of the playground, faulty equipment, or an unsupervised child who causes injury to your child may enable you to pursue damages for your child’s expenses and pain from the at-fault party. Call the experienced attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. or contact us through the firm’s website, to learn more about the compensation to which your family may be entitled.


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