Children reporting less sports fractures, injuries

“It is important to remind parents about the importance of basic safety precautions with bicycles and trampolines, as many children are substituting these activities in place of organised sports and school activities,”

By Siddhi Jain

COVID-19 social distancing measures, including the closure of schools and parks and the indefinite cancellation of team sports, has led to nearly 60 percent decrease in overall in pediatric fractures, according to a new study?.

The study also revealed an increase in the proportion of fractures sustained by children at home. Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that although the overall rate of fractures is down significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion due to bicycle and trampoline injuries has gone up substantially?

The findings, published in the ‘Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics’, suggest a need for increased awareness of at-home safety measures.

“It is important to remind parents about the importance of basic safety precautions with bicycles and trampolines, as many children are substituting these activities in place of organised sports and school activities,” said Apurva Shah, MD, MBA, an orthopaedic surgeon in CHOP’s Division of Orthopaedics and senior author of the study.

The research team gathered data on 1,735 patients who presented at CHOP with acute fractures between March 15 and April 15 and compared that information with patients who presented with fractures during the same timeframe in 2018 and 2019. The researchers found a nearly 2.5-fold decrease in the daily incidence of fracture cases during the pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Sports-related fractures saw a particularly dramatic decline, accounting for only 7.2 percent of fracture cases during the pandemic versus 26 percent of all fracture cases in the same month in 2018 and 2019.

Despite these significant declines, the researchers found an increase of more than 25 percent in fractures occurring at home, which was accompanied by a 12 percent increase in fractures caused by high-energy falls, like those resulting from trampoline injuries, and bicycle injuries. With families spending more time at home due to social distancing guidelines, the researchers suggest this shift in injury location is a natural result of families finding alternative recreational activities for their children.

The decline in fracture incidence was bigger for some age groups than others. Patients aged 12 and over saw a five-fold reduction in the monthly number of fracture cases, whereas children aged 5 and under saw only a 1.5-fold decrease.

The researchers surmise this is due to younger children substituting other active pursuits for pre-pandemic activities, like playground outings and other outdoor activities, whereas adolescents, who are more likely to play team sports, are making fewer of those substitutions.

(Siddhi Jain can be reached at siddhi.j@ians.in)

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