Warm weather means more families are enjoying time outdoors. While this is fantastic, being active naturally brings additional opportunities for injuries to occur.

“Orthopedic injuries happen to both children and adults,” said SSM Health Dean Medical Group – Janesville East Physician Assistant – Certified (PA-C) Michelle Bartzen. “But there are some things we can do to lower the risk of being hurt.”

Broken bones, sprains, and strains are common injuries in kids, occurring both through organized sports and everyday play.

Likewise, adults know how easy it is to feel the effects of those types of past injuries or even the aches and pains from developing arthritis.

“It’s important that we recognize how to care for minor injuries, and to seek help if there is severe pain or a nagging issue,” Bartzen said. “There is no reason to live with limited mobility or to be hurting.”

Riding bicycles

Family bike rides are a great choice for exercise, encouraging bonding time and exploration. Sometimes, though, these adventures can lead to spills. To stay safe, be sure to:

  • Wear a helmet that fits properly and is well-maintained.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes, and not inappropriate footwear like flip-flops.
  • Only ride bikes during daylight hours, when visibility is good.
  • Be sure to pay special attention to vehicles and follow the rules of the road. Your family’s safest cycling option may be to find a bike path to visit, especially if young children are involved.
  • Bring water with you to stay hydrated. It is also a good idea to carry a cellphone and a first-aid kit.

Trampoline play

Broken bones, serious sprains, concussions, head and neck injuries, have been reported with backyard trampolines, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics has reaffirmed its stance that trampoline use should be strongly discouraged.

“If families do allow their children to use a trampoline, it is our hope that sharing safety tips and offering a reminder on appropriate trampoline usage will reduce the number of serious injuries,” Bartzen said.

Be sure to:

  • Use padding to cover the trampoline’s frame, springs and the surrounding area, in case a fall occurs.
  • Place home trampolines on level ground and at a safe distance from trees and other potential hazards.
  • Require adult supervision at all times. Only allow one jumper at a time, and no “stunts” like flips.
  • Inspect the trampoline regularly and repair or replace damaged parts.

Playground and sports accidents

It’s important that kids be taught to tell adults right away if they have been injured, or are experiencing pain. If playing sports, they should not be told to “be tough” or to keep playing.

“Before any type of activities that involve running around, kids and adults should really take the time to stretch,” Bartzen said. “Taking just a few minutes to do this can help to prevent many injuries.”

Some other tips include:

  • Examining the play area or field for any possible trip hazards, such as holes in the ground or exposed tree roots, before getting started.
  • Encouraging kids to take frequent breaks for rest, and making sure they stay hydrated.
  • Examining the temperature of playground surfaces, to make sure they aren’t hot to the touch.

Injuries like a minor sprain can often be cared for through the RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Scrapes should be cared for with antiseptic/soap and water and a clean bandage.

Families should seek immediate care when there is excessive pain and/or swelling involved in an injury. There should also not be the sensation that a joint is “popping” or consistently slipping or “giving out” during activity. Never hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider with questions or concerns.

To learn more about SSM Health Orthopedics, visit Orthopedics | Janesville, WI | SSM Health.

Guest Author: Michelle Bartzen, Janesville East Physician Assistant – Certified (PA-C)

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