Back-to-School Basics: An Injury Prevention Checklist

 With inflation altering shopping behaviors1, consumers are finding ways to navigate supply lists this back-to-school season. One thing holds true, however, for families preparing for the new school year — the importance of injury prevention. The bone and joint experts at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and OrthoInfo.org remind us that accidents can be prevented if parents, teachers and students are on the lookout for potential hazards.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reminds families to brush up on a few safety practices both inside and outside the classroom to help decrease chances of musculoskeletal injuries this upcoming school year.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reminds families to brush up on a few safety practices both inside and outside the classroom to help decrease chances of musculoskeletal injuries this upcoming school year.

“Economic uncertainly may have families making tradeoffs on their back-to-school planning, but injury prevention is one thing that should remain top of mind as students head back to the classroom,” said pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons spokesperson Matthew R. Schmitz, MD, FAAOS. “Every year, thousands of children are injured on playgrounds, while playing sports or as they walk, bike, skateboard or scooter to and from school. By helping them brush up on a few safety practices both inside and outside the classroom, they’ll be set up for success and reduce chances for injuries.”

HOW COMMON ARE SCHOOL INJURIES?

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, more than 175,000 school injuries have resulted in a visit to a hospital emergency department over the past decade. The data also reveals that school injuries tend to occur more frequently at certain times of the year.

“During the first few months of the school year, everyone is adapting to new routines, bus routes and even sports teams, which may spur the conditions for accidents and injuries,” added Dr. Schmitz.

Members of the AAOS offer the following roundup to help decrease chances of musculoskeletal injuries this upcoming school year:

  • MIND THE BACKPACK – To limit injuries or back pain, encourage your children to limit the load and utilize both padded straps for proper posture and weight distribution. Check frequently that your child is not carrying more than 15% of his or her body weight in the backpack. The correct use of both wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack more evenly across the user’s back. The bottom of the backpack should sit at the waist with heavier things packed low and towards the center.
  • TAKE A BREAK AND STRETCH – Repetitive stress injuries from writing on white boards, reading tablets and bending down are common among school staff and students alike. Taking just 10 minutes to stretch your wrists, shoulders and back before the day can prepare your muscles and provide stress relief.
  • PLAY SMARTER – According to the CPSC, each year, more than 206,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the U.S. for injuries occurring on playgrounds. Teachers and school staff should remind students to go down the slide only one person at a time, slide sitting down and face forward.
  • EASE BACK INTO THE GAME – Summer may have involved swimming, camps, clinics and time with friends, but fall sports tend to pick up the intensity with common injuries among young athletes falling into two basic categories: overuse injuries and acute injuries to the soft tissues (muscles and ligaments). Student athletes should ease into required pads and equipment needed for their sport and take frequent water breaks to avoid dehydration in preseason.
  • LOOK LEFT, LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT AGAIN – Traffic accidents are a major cause of serious injury and death in America. Tell children to walk – not run – across the street and stay aware of their surroundings. Look for signs that a car is about to move, such as rear lights, the sound of the motor, and wheels turning, to prevent pedestrian crashes. Walk safely by staying on sidewalks when possible.

For more bone and joint injury prevention and treatment information, visit OrthoInfo.org.

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