The human body has 206 bones, and half of all kids break at least one, or seriously injure a joint, ligament or muscle keeping those bones together. How do you keep your children on the right side of that statistic?
Don’t sit them on the sidelines! “Physical exercise is extremely important to maintain adequate bone health,” says Mauricio Silva, M.D., associate medical director at Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Center. Instead, make sure kids get a diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and at least 35 minutes of physical activity a day. Then provide supervision, take appropriate safety precautions – and teach them to your kids. That’s what Silva says he tries to do with his 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
Here are Silva’s tips:
- At home, use non-slip rugs, appropriate stools or ladders with non-skid legs, and child-safety locks on cupboard doors and drawers so children cannot climb them.
- Make sure playground equipment your kids use has a protective surface surrounding it.
- Keep children’s bicycles in good working order, with proper reflectors and lights. Teach your kids to wear their helmets and adhere to the rules of the road.
- Gear your children up with helmets, wrist guards, braces and kneepads for other sports activities.
Mauricio Silva, M.D.
To get kids to use the gear, appeal to their sense of style. Silva’s son said he didn’t like his first bicycle helmet, “but when I got him a Spider Man helmet, he loved it.” Because children learn best through example, wear your own helmet, too.
If your child is injured, here’s your to-do list:
- Clean any abrasions with soap and water, and look for any swelling or deformity.
- Elevate injured extremities and apply ice.
- Seek medical attention if:
- Your child has deep abrasions, or the surrounding skin becomes red and warm.
- Your child has swelling or deformity.
- Your child can’t stand on a foot or leg injury.
- Your child complains of headache after a head injury.
To decide how urgent those calls for help should be (a 9-1-1 call versus a chat with your pediatrician) “think about the amount of energy involved in the trauma,” Silva says. A car accident or a fall from a horse (high energy) means a call to 9-1-1. You’ll also want to call an ambulance any time bone is protruding from skin, or if your child’s limb is really out of shape. Paramedics have the proper equipment to let them immobilize the limb, which means your child will have much less pain on the way to the hospital than she would in the back of your car.
Minor falls or a spill on the playground (low energy) probably means just a visit to the pediatrician. Don’t skip that visit, because there could be damage you can’t see. For instance, a child who can put weight on an injured limb still could have a small fracture.
Follow your doctor’s advice during recovery, because your child will be a bit more vulnerable during the months following the injury. “You’ll be surprised how many patients re-break the bone within the first three months,” Silva says. With a little extra caution, and time to heal, the broken bone will be good as new.
Get more Play Safe safety tips from LA Orthopaedic Hospital …