The US study found that the most common type of playground injury was a fractured lower leg. In the majority of these cases, the fracture happened when the child’s foot catches the edge or bottom of the slide, then twists and bends backward while sitting on a parent’s lap.
This prompted headlines telling parents to “never” go down a slide with a child, but in reality, it’s more about practising common sense.
Katrina Phillips, CEO, Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) told HuffPost UK: “It makes sense that if a child’s foot or leg gets stuck on the slide the weight of the adult is likely to cause more damage. Little ones are often reluctant to get on by themselves, so it’s natural for parents to want to encourage them.
“It’s helpful to know how common this sort of injury is so that parents can be more vigilant or decide to catch their child at the bottom rather than get on themselves.”
Charles Jennissen, lead researcher from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine said: “Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought.
“And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known.”
Jennissen said that a young child sliding by themselves is unlikely to get a severe injury to their leg even if the foot catches due to the relatively low forces involved. He said the force generated by the forward momentum of an adult with a child on their lap is “much greater”.
The study’s researchers recommended that adults and teens not go down a slide with a young child on their lap. They state that parents and caregivers who elect to do so must use “extreme caution” to prevent the child’s foot from catching on the slide’s surfaces.
In response to the study, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said more research needs to be done to find out if this injury pattern is prevalent in the UK.
They explained that the latest figures from 2002 show that an estimated 40,000 children go to A&E departments across the UK each year after having been injured on playgrounds.
“This research presents some interesting findings and we’re keen to find out if the UK has a similar injury pattern,” they told HuffPost UK.
NHS Digital still collects data on hospital admissions in England related to “falls involving playground equipment” - these figures record the number of people seriously injured enough to be admitted to hospital, rather than just visiting A&E.
In 2014/15, there were around 8,500 hospital admissions in England due to falls involving playground equipment, of which around 8,000 were to children.