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Wall Street Journal: Emergency Room Season for Kids

injuries chart

With warmer temperatures come more injuries, from bumps to broken bones, for children adjusting to growth spurts
By SUMATHI REDDY

Spring is the season for broken bones, bruises, bumps and sprains.

With more children finally free to step outside after a winter cooped up indoors, more land in emergency rooms and urgent-care centers with injuries. Some are adjusting to new height and strength after growth spurts. Others become victims of reckless horseplay or unavoidable accidents.

Doctors say any risks are outweighed by the need for children to get plenty of exercise. Simple rules of thumb can help minimize potential injuries. They should remember proper footwear and protect their heads with helmets on scooters and bikes, for instance. They should also stay well-hydrated before and after playing.

Injuries start picking up in April, says Karin Sadow, regional medical director for PM Pediatrics’s 16 urgent-care offices in the New York metropolitan area. “School sports are in full swing and the bikes come out of the shed,” she says.

By June last year the injuries PM doctors treated were nearly double what they were in the winter. Though not all injuries take place outside, doctors largely attribute the increase to children being outside and more active. Most incidents occur with children between the ages of 8 and 13.

By June last year the injuries PM doctors treated were nearly double what they were in the winter. Though not all injuries take place outside, doctors largely attribute the increase to children being outside and more active. Most incidents occur with children between the ages of 8 and 13.

Just in the past few weeks the practices have seen a 10-year-old girl who fell off her scooter and sprained her wrist; a lacrosse player with a finger fracture; a runner with a stress fracture; a 21-month-old with a tibia fracture after going down a slide with her aunt; a 5-year-old who fell off the monkey bars and suffered a grade-two supracondylar, or elbow fracture; a baseball player with a mild concussion; and a child bruised on a tire swing mishap, among others.

Ashleigh Mullins landed at a clinic last week. On Wednesday the 10-year-old was at the playground after school in Syosset, N.Y., playing with a Skip-It, a plastic hook that’s affixed to an ankle and spun around while skipping.

“She stepped on it and rolled her ankle, landing sideways,” says her mother, Laurie Mullins, who has two other children and lives in nearby Farmingdale.

Ms. Mullins brought her daughter to the PM Pediatrics in Syosset, where they determined she sprained her left ankle and put an air splint on it, which she had to wear for three to five days. Last summer Ashleigh suffered a growth plate fracture on her wrist after falling while Rollerblading.

“I have three kids, and over the years we’ve had fractured wrists and stuff like that, but nothing really serious,” Ms. Mullins says. “Finally the weather did get warmer and now everybody’s going outside and you do increase your chances of injury…or you’re doing something you haven’t done in a couple of months and you’re a little shaky.” Read more