Playground Safety

Beware of Concussions

Most kids never met a playground they didn’t like. They may certainly have their favorites, but even the old, worn out, simplest playgrounds attract children for hours of play. Playgrounds are a great place for children to explore, run, learn new skills and have opportunities to take risks and test their limits, all while having fun. Let’s take a look at how you can keep your child safe while on a playground as well as being able to spot a possible concussion or other serious brain injury if your child takes a fall.  

Tips to Avoid Playground Concussions

The The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests these things to consider while visiting playgrounds:

Locate playgrounds that have equipment that is age appropriate for your children.  You want to make sure that if you have a small child that they avoid playing and climbing on a play gym that exceeds their ability. 

Check that playgrounds have soft material under them, such as wood chips, sand or mulch.  Many newer playgrounds utilize rubber mulch.

Make sure there are guardrails on equipment to help prevent falls.  

Look for things in the play area such as tree stumps or rocks that could trip a child.  

Kid in bright colors on playground
Girls on monkey bars upside down

Monkey Bars and Likely Hood of Concussion

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that on the playground, children are more likely to get a concussion or other serious brain injury when using monkey bars, climbing equipment or using the swings.

What is a Concussion?

o what exactly is a concussion? The CDC describes a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury – or TBI caused by a bump, blow, a jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. The fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skill, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells.

Concussion Description

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

After a fall, bump, a blow or a jolt to the head or body, look for one or more of these signs and symptoms of a concussion, (per the CDC).

The following are symptoms that are reported by children:

  • Headache or “pressure” in the head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right” or “feeling down”.
Little boy with hurt head

The following are signs observed by parents:

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
girl with hurt head

Seek Medical Attention Right Away

If you see any of these signs or symptoms and think your child has a concussion, or other serious brain injury, seek medical attention right away. While signs and symptoms could show up immediately after the injury, some symptoms may not be noticed or appear for hours or even days after an injury.  Most children with a concussion will feel better within a couple of weeks, however, some will have symptoms for months or longer.

Serious Danger Signs to Look Out For

There are more serious danger signs to look out for as well.  In rare cases, a dangerous collection of blood (or hematoma) may form on the brain after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that can squeeze the brain against the skull.  Call 9-1-1 right away if he or she has one or more of these danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:

  • One pupil is larger than the other.
  • Drowsiness or the inability to wake up.
  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions, or seizures.
  • Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
  • Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.
Call 911

Planning ahead before taking your children for an outdoor adventure, you can help lower the chance of your child getting a concussion.  Proper clothing and shoes, supervision in all play areas, and avoiding playing on equipment not suitable for the age or ability of the child. For more information about concussions, go to: and

*This information is not a substitute for medical or professional care.  Questions about diagnosis and treatment for concussion should be directed to your physician or other health care provider.

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