WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - It's summertime and the injuring is easy. For all the pleasures of outdoor fun in Westchester County, there is the lurking possibility your children could sustain injuries that warrant a trip to the emergency room.
According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, falls, bicycle crashes, burns, motorized vehicle accidents and near-drowning are the leading causes of hospitalization for American children during the summer.
And Dr. Lisa Geller, an emergency medicine physician at Northern Westchester hospital, has seen many of them.
"During the summer we typically see a lot of injuries related to playing outside, such as injuries from riding bikes, scooters, skateboards and rollerblading,” she said.
While falls usually top the list of causes of summertime injuries suffered by children, the culprits are not only the much vilified trampoline or the skittish horse: the more prosaic playground is often the cause of injuries among children.
Unfortunately, playground falls alone may not be that serious, but falls can precipitate other, more acute injuries, such as sprains, bruises, lacerations and more serious head injuries.
"Many kids come to the hospital also have concussions from hitting their heads, and we see a lot of fractured bones from children playing on the monkey bars," said Geller.
Bicycles are another cause of injury to children. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, nearly 400,000 children under the age of 19 are treated at emergency departments each year for bicycle-related injuries.
As children get older their risk for different kinds of injury grows. Teenagers, particularly those using drugs and/or alcohol, pose a greater risk to themselves during the summer, as they have more unsupervised time than during the school year. Risky behaviors such as swimming at night or in dangerous water, such as that with swift currents or tides, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, pose a threat to teenagers' wellbeing, as does aggressive driving and driving under the influence.
But, said Geller, “Prevention cannot be stressed enough when it comes to injuries in children.” She said parents need to make sure their children wear protective equipment when they ride their bicycles or rollerblade, and if playing contact sports, children should have on whatever protective gear is recommended.
Of course, not all injuries are preventable and accidents do happen, but keeping a close eye on your child -- regardless of his or her age -- is always a prudent approach. It could save you a trip to the emergency room.
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