Less risk of arm fracture with Sand vs wood chip playground surfaces

January 01, 0001

Less risk of arm fracture with Sand vs wood chip playground surfaces

The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective of the Canadian researchers from was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre (Fibar) surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list.

Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 for falls onto Fibar surfaces (significant). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.

The researchers concluded: "Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures."

Sand does appear superior from this study.

For the full abstract, click here.

PLoS Med 6(12): e1000195 (doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195)
© 2009 Howard et al
School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces. Andrew W. Howard, Colin Macarthur, Linda Rothman, Andrew Willan and Alison K. Macpherson. Correspondence to: Andrew Howard: [email protected]

Category: M. Musculoskeletal Keywords: school, playground, surfacing, sand, wood chip, arm, fractures, children, cluster randomized trial, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 28 January 2010

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