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Recent attempts to begin to address what we don’t know
In the current issue of Injury Prevention two studies examine aspects of playground safety. Nixon and colleagues examined frequency of use of play equipment in public schools and parks in Brisbane, Australia1 and Sherker et al present the development of a novel method to investigate physical risk factors for playground related arm fractures.2 These studies represent recent attempts to begin to address gaps in research that enhance the current state of knowledge about this important childhood injury issue. Addressing these gaps is vital to a comprehensive understanding and approach to the issue, which will ensure effective policy decisions and result in a reduction in playground injury.
So what do we know? Playground injury has been recognised as an important issue for some time. We know that playground injuries are common and represent an important cause of childhood injury in most countries in the developed world.3–12 We also know that the age group most affected are school age children, whose increased exposure to playground equipment at schools, public parks, and back yards affects their risk.7,8,13–21 Thankfully, although reasonably common, most playground related injuries are not serious enough to cause permanent disability and fatal incidents are rare.22–27 We know that the most common cause of playground injuries are falls from equipment (for example, climbers, monkey bars, slides). However, injury also results when children are struck by moving objects (for example, swings) or strangle either through head entrapment or as the result of clothing caught in equipment.3,4,9,13–16,20,22–41 The rare playground fatalities have for the most part been the …