Last spring,Katie Dickman of Dunkirk,Md,was at the playground with her 18-month-old toddler,Hannah,when the little girl asked to ride down a twisting slide. Dickman accompanied her daughter,carefully keeping the child on her lap.
But without warning,Hannahs sneaker caught on the side of the slide. Although Dickman grabbed the leg and unstuck her daughters foot,by the time they reached the ground,the girl was whimpering and could not walk. A doctors visit later revealed a fractured tibia.
As the Dickmans soon learned,such injuries are surprisingly common. Orthopedic specialists say they treat a number of toddlers and young children each year with broken legs as a result of riding down the slide on a parents lap. A study at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola,NY,found that nearly 14 percent of pediatric leg fractures over an 11-month period involved toddlers riding down the slide with a parent.
This may be one of those counterintuitive cases when a child is safer by itself. If a foot gets caught while the child is sliding alone,she can just stop moving or twist around until it comes free. But when a child is sitting in an adult lap,the force of the adults weight ends up breaking the childs leg.
To prevent the injury,the best solution is to allow a child to slide by himself,with supervision and instructions on how to play safely. Young children can be placed on the slide at the halfway point with a parent standing next to the slide. At the very least,parents should remove a childs shoes before riding down the slide with the child on their laps,and make sure the childs legs dont touch the sides or sliding surface.