Playgrounds have a number of key design elements intended to protect children from serious injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that most playground equipment-related injuries occurred when a child fell from the equipment onto the ground [1].

It was estimated that in 1999 approximately 206,000 playground equipment-related injuries required a hospital emergency room visit [2]. Specifically, for children under five years of age there were 29.1 injuries per 10,000 children and for children ages 5 to 14 years old there were 34.8 injuries per 10,000 children. At the time, about half of the injuries on public equipment occurred on playground climbing equipment [2].

With the recent heightened public focus on children’s head injuries, this paper will review the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) data to better understand the injury trends over time, quantify risks associated with playground equipment usage and discuss the design features intended to mitigate these hazards. The analysis is restricted to children ages 2 to 12 years of age who were injured during the timeframe 2000 to 2020. The focus of the analysis will be head injuries resulting from falls associated with playground climbing equipment. The severity of injuries will also be discussed. Further, the identified head injury characteristics will be evaluated relative to the performance requirements outlined in the industry standards and CPSC guidelines.

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