Dr. Plancher provided opinion in the New York Post on playground hazards for parents

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LIVING: When the playground is a dangerous place — for parents

By Anna Davies, August 16, 2016

Modal Trigger Sara Dimmick suffered multiple injuries due to chasing her son around the playground. She no longer shadows her 19-month-old at the park.

Pilar Scratch, a fashion blogger and mother of one, was looking forward to a day of fun at an indoor children’s play center with her then-3-year-old son, River. The 25-year-old and son played “follow the leader” up the foam stairs and through a tunnel, but as she squeezed into the small plastic tunnel slide, she heard a snap.

“I had broken my wrist!” the Newark, NJ, resident recalls of the subsequent trip to the emergency room.

Along with the expected bumps and bruises of the knee-high set, doctors are hearing more of their adult patients complain of injuries they suffered on the playground. “It used to be that parents would let their kids play, while they would hang back on a bench. Now, parents are much more hands-on, so they’re climbing up the play structures, they’re on the slide, and that can lead to problems for both parents and their kids,” says Dr. Kevin Plancher, a sports medicine doctor who has seen a rise in these incidents at his Upper East Side practice.

‘If you feel uncomfortable with your child climbing unassisted, that’s a sign your child may not be ready for that particular piece of equipment.’

And experts say being hands-on at the jungle gym may be dangerous to tots, too. One 2009 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics found that tibial fractures in toddlers happened disproportionately more often when they rode down slides in grown-ups’ laps than when they went down on their own. Plus, when a parent is on the climbing structure, a child may be exposed to equipment too advanced for their development, which has been cited as a major injury risk factor in a 2012 study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“If you feel uncomfortable with your child climbing unassisted, that’s a sign your child may not be ready for that particular piece of equipment,” says Dr. Hansa Bhargava, a pediatrician and WebMD medical editor. “An adult on the play structure can get in the way of other kids. Plus, play structures aren’t made with adult sizing in mind, which can lead to adult injury.”

Sara Dimmick, 37, a personal trainer in Midtown East, learned that the hard way. She’s hit her head on the arch above the slide multiple times, and has gotten a few bloody lips from bumping into play equipment while chasing after her now-19-month-old son.

“You’re so busy paying attention to them, you’re not necessarily looking at where you’re going,” she says.

Dimmick now watches her toddler play while she has two feet firmly planted on the ground, but for some parents, letting go requires outside help. Krista Rizzo, founder of the Park Slope, Brooklyn, parent-coaching company Why Am I Yelling, spends many sessions teaching nervous parents how to hang back at the monkey bars.

“Just because you’re not on the slide with them doesn’t mean you’re not actively participating and being a part of their experience,” says Rizzo, who advises parents to not be so quick to swoop in if their children look like they’re having difficulty. “If [children are] wobbly on a step, don’t automatically pick them up. When you observe, you’ll see them reaching for a railing or taking a smaller step. These are the skills they come to the playground to master: They don’t get that mastery and sense of accomplishment if they’re always being rescued.”

And for some parents, stepping back means admitting to themselves that they’re no longer kids.

Frank Lee, a Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, father, couldn’t resist the lure of the metal, self-propelled merry-go-round while escorting his then-5-year-old son to the playground three years ago. He climbed on the structure, spinning it so fast that he got dizzy. When he stepped off, he threw up in front of an amused group of parents and kids. “It wasn’t my finest moment. I had to sit on a bench with my son for a long time before everything stopped spinning,” says Lee, 34.

Scratch, the mom who broke her wrist on the slide, can sympathize. “Now, I’ll sometimes try to join my son on the jungle gym, and he’s like, ‘Mom, no. Remember the time you busted your wrist?’ Point taken.”

http://nypost.com/2016/08/16/when-the-playground-is-a-dangerous-place-for-parents/