Child patient playing on the monkey bars

Jun 21, 2016 / Fractures

Monkeying Around – Scottish Rite Hospital’s Fracture Clinic

Even though falls can happen from anywhere, one of the more frequent injuries we see in our fracture clinic is a fall from the monkey bars. In a child’s first year, they develop a reflex called the parachute reflex. This means that with the sensation of a fall, the child naturally extends his or her arms to protect the upper body from the impact.

As upper body strength develops, children become more adventurous on playground equipment. They climb higher and faster, and just as quickly, their risk of injury grows. We know that falls from higher distances and using equipment in ways it was not intended cause more injuries. On the playground, the most frequent injuries from these falls are to the arm, the very thing that is designed to protect the body.

Fortunately, broken bones in the wrist, elbow and upper arm in children heal well in most cases. Proper diagnosis and early management are critical. For children, like Ellie, a cast for a short time is all that was needed. For others, surgery may be required to return the arm to its normal position, or to hold it in a good place during healing. Gerad Montgomery, M.S.N., F.N.P.-C., tells us, “As pediatric specialists, we only treat children and that gives us the experience and knowledge to determine which injuries will heal safely and which ones might need additional intervention.”

Though we know we can’t stop all playground injuries, here are a few tips for reducing the risk of broken arms from a fall. Children should:

  • Use properly sized equipment for his or her age.
  • Use equipment as it is intended.
  • Not skip rungs when swinging across monkey bars.
  • Not climb on top of monkey bars or outside equipment.
  • Only climb on equipment over mulch or rubberized surfaces.
  • Be supervised during play on any climbing equipment.

For more tips on playground safety, please visit our previous post.

Bumps and bruises are sometimes a normal part of kids being kids! However, if your child breaks a bone, you can call Scottish Rite Hospital’s Fracture Clinic directly at 469-515-7200. To learn more about our Fracture Clinic, please visit our Fractures page.


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