"Spring forward, fall back" has an entirely different meaning to pediatric orthopedic specialists.
"I can put a big red `X' on my calendar when daylight-saving time starts. We get a deluge of calls concerning children with broken bones, mainly from falls, and it lasts until school starts back in September," said Dr. James Beaty. "I can set my watch by it."Beaty, a pediatric orthopedist, says the increase in injuries is due mainly to children falling off gym sets, bicycles, swing sets and "you name it" during the increased outdoor playing time.
Daylight-saving time begins at 2 a.m. local time Sunday.
"Some severe injuries might be reduced if parents sat down and talked with their kids about common-sense safety," he said.
According to Beaty, injuries are mainly in two areas: the wrist and the elbow. When children fall, they try to break the fall with their arms, resulting in fractures of the elbow, forearm and wrist. Collarbone fractures from landing directly on the shoulder also are common. Children aged 5 to 12 are in the high-incidence group.
What can parents do to lessen the injuries that begin with the extra hour of daylight?
"The best thing is to talk to them over and over about common-sense safety procedures. Tell them not to ride their bikes on busy streets, don't climb objects not meant for climbing and don't attempt things beyond their skill level like skateboarding or biking on steep ramps," Beaty said.
And what should parents do when the falls do occur?
First of all, Beaty says, forget the saying, "If you can wiggle it, it's not broken." That's largely an old wives' tale.
"If there is no obvious deformity, make a common-sense judgment. Keep an eye on the child. If 20 minutes later he's playing without pain, you probably don't have anything to worry about. If pain persists or worsens the next day, call your physician."
If, after a severe fall, the child is unconscious or you suspect a neck or spine injury, don't move the child unless it's to save his or her life.
"In these situations, call an ambulance and let the paramedics make an on-the-spot evaluation," Beaty said.