Summer holidays are a time of joy and fun for the whole family, also the time where we see most injuries and trauma in children and adolescents. An injury can certainly throw a spanner in anybody’s holiday plans, not to mention potentially long-lasting effects on your child’s health or physical function.
So what holiday activities pose the greatest risk to children in terms of admissions to emergency departments with broken limbs?
Kemble Wang, a Melbourne orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in upper limb injury in children, is all too familiar with the breaks and injuries that children sustain over the Christmas holidays.
“Christmas holidays are usually joyous and happy times for families, but sustaining an injury that can create long term issues can quickly turn the holiday period on its head”, says Dr Wang.
“We want to continue to encourage kids to play and be active, but to also give a few words of caution to parents these holidays in the hope that it might prevent broken bones and other injuries.”
“School holidays are always busier times for emergency departments of hospitals and we know which activities lead to the highest level of injuries and admissions.”
Dr Wang outlines the following “top culprits” leading to accidental broken bones in children:
Trampolines and jumping castles
Scooters and skateboards
Dirt/Quad Bikes (these result in the most serious injuries in children)
Dr Wang advises parents to supervise children closely. Even seemingly well-protected enclosures such as trampoline parks and jumping castles often produce serious injuries. Children can sustain injuries especially when trying to do tricks, or on the same device with multiple other kids, resulting in collisions or being “double-jumped”.
Dr Wang warns especially that the most dangerous activities often involve speed such as with bicycles, scooters and dirtbikes. Always ensure children have protective headwear and bodywear where appropriate.
“We see some horrific injuries in children who have come off motorised equipment. Some children will carry their injuries for years, some are maimed for the rest of their lives.” The Australian government had recently announced new safety standards for all quad bikes, including the ban of all children aboard quad bikes (https://www.surgeons.org/news/media-releases/2019-10-10-surgeons-applaud-crack-down-on-quad-bikes). However, there remains concern for safety of children before these changes are fully implemented.
Seemingly minor injuries should not always be ignored: “Many parents assume that all broken bones heal fine, but this is a common misconception. Not all bones heal well or correctly in all cases. Some breaks don’t always heal and some can heal in the wrong way. Dr Wang goes onto say, “The most important thing is to seek medical assistance if you think your child may have a broken bone or serious injury.”
“Leaving a broken bone for a week, or even a few days, can be detrimental. Kids bones set quickly and if a bone breaks and starts to heal in the wrong position, sometimes there’s not much we can do and this can impact the child as they grow and develop”, Dr Wang goes on to say.
“Accidents happen, it’s a part of growing up. But please use common sense and safety where possible.”
Dr Kemble Wang
P: 9928 6968
About Dr Kemble WangDr Kemble Wang is an Australian and American-trained orthopaedic surgeon with a subspecialty interest in the upper limb, particularly the reconstruction of shoulder, elbow and wrist conditions in young patients.
After completing his medical degree at The University of Melbourne and his orthopaedic training in Victoria, Dr Wang completed further upper limb subspecialty training in the United States, including fellowship training at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, USA.
Dr Wang practices privately at Melbourne Orthopaedics Surgeons and publicly at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Eastern Health.