Sports and Playground Injury Preparedness — #CMHmoms


Sports and Playground Injury Preparedness

On the very first full day of school, I got the dreaded call that all parents of school-aged children fear.

“Good morning, Katie. This is Nurse Erin from school. How are you today?”

Immediately, my mind starts racing. I scour my brain for any sign of illness I may have missed that morning. I’ve got nothing. No queasy tummies, scratchy throats, sings of fever, girl drama, nothing. This cannot be good.

My reply, “Not as good as I was doing before you called…”

Cue Nurse Erin, “Well, I’ve got Miss Annie in my office. She had a little accident at recess and fell off the bars.”

Dang it! The vision of my friend who’s daughter broke both arms over the summer flashes through my eyes. Next come visions of blood and concussions and paralysis. (Yes, all of that and more in two seconds flat.)

Our friend Eliza with her TWO broken arms. She broke the second one exactly six weeks after the first. Summer fun.

Our friend Eliza with her TWO broken arms. She broke the second one exactly six weeks after the first. Summer fun.

“I don’t want you to worry, but Annie got the wind knocked out of her and seems to be in quite a bit of pain.”

I’m not exactly sure how the rest of the conversation went, but I do know that I high tailed it up to school, held my eight year old “baby” while she ate her lunch in the nurse’s office, and comforted her until the pain relievers kicked in, and the fear had (mostly) subsided.

As I walked her back to her classroom, I wanted to say “stay off the bars and play it safe at afternoon recess”. Instead, I gave her a big hug and sent her off with a “next recess, get back on those bars and show them who’s boss”. It was very, very hard.

As parents, we want to protect our kiddos in every way possible, especially when they aren’t with us. However, we also have to teach them to face their fears, rise to challenges, and follow their dreams. If we are always telling them to “play it safe”, none of these things can happen.

Almost a year ago, I partnered with Children’s Mercy Hospital as a #CMHmoms ambassador. Basically, that means I get to go do cool things like watch a live surgery, interview amazing doctors, read cutting edge research, and then write about it. One thing that I hadn’t really thought about was sports or playground injuries.

That day, I realized I didn’t have an action plan in place if my kid needed to be treated for an emergency fall.

I went to Children’s Mercy Hospital’s website and started reading about the pediatric services they provide. I learned that because kids are still growing, it is important to consider what happens in the event of a broken bone. At Children’s Mercy, child-size equipment is used to ensure broken bones and other injuries are addressed appropriately to help prevent long-term problems. According to Dr. Donna Pacicca, attending surgeon, division of Orthopaedic Surgery,

“When a sports injury occurs, setting a child’s broken bone requires a different approach than
that of an adult. Don’t leave something like a growth plate up to guessing. Make sure you consider the most appropriate treatment for that particular injury and recognizing fractures that could lead to persistent deformity and/or loss of motion if not addressed.”

(You can learn more about the importance of addressing kid-sized fractures from Dr. Pacicca and others about broken bones and surgery here:

After understanding the importance of picking a caregiver that specializes in pediatrics, I did what any helicopter-ish-type-mom-that-is-trying-to-play-it-cool reasonable mom would do. I called Nurse Erin to find out what type of plan they have in place for addressing a fracture or possible concussion. (I even made sure to say that the only reason I was asking is because I was working on an article about sports and playground injuries. See, super cool. Not a helicopter.)

Turns out, their system makes a lot of sense. They call the parents. If the parents can’t be reached, they contact the emergency contacts on file. Then, together they come up with a plan. Had Annie’s fall on the bars been more serious, and Nurse Erin asked me what my plan was, I wouldn’t have had one.

That scared me, and quickly changed.

I now have a printed copy of Children’s Mercy’s Emergency and Urgent Care locations stashed in my glove box. This way, if I’m freaking out, I’m not trying to do a search on my phone while I drive, and I can quickly assess what location is the most convenient based on where we are at the time.

I also told both sets of grandparents that, in the case of an emergency, our children should be treated by the kid experts, not just a routine ER surgeon. I explained to them why this is important, and why they should take my girls to Children’s Mercy.

Looking back, it scares me that I didn’t have a plan in place for a sports injury or trauma. Honestly, it was probably because I didn’t want to think about seeing my sweet girls in immense pain. (I’ve broken multiple bones, I know how much it sucks.) However, I now realize that the thought of not addressing this possibility, and not having a plan in place, is even more dangerous.

I pray that my relationship with Children’s Mercy remains a partnership that doesn’t involve my children. However, if childhood injury or disease does occur, I will be honored to partner with them as the parent of a patient as well. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m grateful that Children’s Mercy Hospital is in my village.

Parents, do you have a plan in place for an injury or trauma? What other tips and tricks can you share with our community? Please share in the comments below or on Children’s Mercy’s FB page or Twitter feed.

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