Kids in parents' laps down slides can cause fractures

Going to the park is supposed to be fun, but surgeons say they're seeing avoidable fractures taking place on the slide.

AUSTIN -- While doctors say many of the common injuries they see in toddlers are unavoidable, such as injuries to forearms and elbows due to playground falls, they are also seeing an increase in one unavoidable type of injury: Leg fractures.

Doctors say rubber-soled shoes on toddlers usually between 18 and 36 months old are to blame. When children ride down slides on their parents' laps, the child's shoe gets stuck, and as the parent's weight travels down the slide, the tibia or shin bone can fracture or even break.

"On the metal ones, they just grip onto that metal, and the kids just can't move," said Bryan Williams, father of a 21-month-old boy. "It's the reason why I'm nervous about going down (the slide) with my child."

Dr. Brannan Smoot, an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Orthopedics, said the fractures are usually subtle and don't break the skin, and the injury is far more common than parents realize.

"Thirty percent of the tibia fractures in this age range were created by slide injuries," Smoot said.

Smoot said a child with the injury will cry and not walk on the injured leg, and surgery is usually not necessary. He said the best way to avoid injury is to let kids go down smaller slides by themselves, or parents can hold the toddlers while standing next to a slide. If parents want to slide with their children, he said to make sure the children are not wearing shoes, only socks.


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