Fewer people are breaking bones during the pandemic. But more are happening here.
The good news: Researchers noted a 60% decrease in pediatric bone fractures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The not-so-good news: More fractures than ever are occurring at home.
Recent research published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics suggests a 2.5-fold decline in pediatric fracture volume between March 15 and April 15 of this year compared to the same time frame in 2018 and 2019.
Why is this?
Researchers attribute the decrease to the halting of organized sports and playground use and the increase of injury at home to the obvious fact that children are spending much more time at home playing with things like bikes and trampolines.
Alix McNulty, manager of community outreach and population health at Advocate Children’s Hospital, says she is seeing this firsthand.
“I have never had to service so many femur fractures coming through the emergency department with special needs travel restraints in all my injury prevention career,” she says. “Kids are home, schedules and routines are disrupted — injuries are definitely on the rise.”
McNulty says because kids are spending more time at home, parents and caregivers are more likely to ease up on monitoring them, therefore increasing the chance of something happening when someone “turns their back for a second.”
“Kids are in environments in which they’re comfortable. Although they may be supervised, the ease of the supervisor being able to run inside to grab something or answer a quick phone call is greater at home than in a public place like a park or public swimming pool. Most parents are like hawks when watching their children in unfamiliar surroundings.”
She points to these common potential causes of injury at home:
- Playground equipment
What can you do to prevent injuries while at home?
“It’s important to set safety rules for kids — even at home,” McNulty says. “You may not be able to have your eyes on your child every second of the day while they’re home, but kids get bored quickly, especially when stuck inside. Some of these at-home creative plans like homemade bike ramps and questionable forts can lead to injuries. Check in on your kids as often as possible. Make sure to check out the integrity of their bikes and skateboards before use (ex: make sure bike tires are properly inflated, no spokes are sticking out, etc.) and always wear a helmet!”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.