A paediatric orthopaedic surgeon shares four common injuries that could land your child on the surgery table – plus, helpful tips on preventing them in the first place.
#1 Trampoline injuries
Lower limb injuries from trampoline mishaps are quite common, usually occurring when a child loses their footing while landing on the trampoline mat, explains DR LAM KAI YET. At Bone Island Children’s Clinic, he treats infants, children and teens with orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions that have either been present since birth or resulted from playing sports or from “just being a kid”.
“Treatment for a trampoline injury usually involves immobilising the injured limb, and x-rays may be ordered to evaluate the injury before further treatment.”
To avoid trampoline trauma, Dr Lam suggests limiting the trampoline mat to one child at a time. “Most accidents occur when there are two or more children of different sizes and weights.”
#2 Fingertip injuries and amputations
“Fingertip injuries, including nailbed lacerations, are very common in children because little ones love to put their tiny digits into crevices behind the door,” says Dr Lam. “These injuries can sometimes be treated with dressings and antibiotics. However, more often than not, a child will need stitches to patch the injured finger back.”
In some cases, the fingertip can get amputated completely. If this happens, do not panic! Instead, Dr Lam recommends washing the wound, applying firm pressure and a bandage.
“Find the tip of the finger and wrap a layer of wet gauze over it. Keep this in a Ziploc bag, then bring it with you to the hospital in an ice pack. Most fingertip amputates can be re-attached in young children. Very rarely are the fingertips not salvageable.”
To prevent fingertip injuries from occurring in the first place, Dr Lam suggests paying special attention to Singapore’s windy seasons, which are usually from December to March.
“If there are young kids at home who just cannot keep their fingers away from the back of doors or windows, invest in some child doorstoppers,” he says.
#3 Bicycle spoke injuries
All too often, a child’s foot gets caught in the back wheel while an adult is riding the bike, resulting in fractures, skin abrasions or lacerations, explains Dr Lam.
Most of these injuries can be treated with dressings, antibiotics and a cast for about four weeks. However, these injuries are entirely preventable!
“Using proper child bicycle seat attachments when riding with a young one is key to preventing bicycle spoke injuries in the first place,” he says.
#4 Supracondylar humerus fractures
This type of fracture above the elbow joint is the single most common fracture in children that necessitates surgery, explains Dr Lam. It usually happens following a fall from a height, often while climbing a monkey bar apparatus.
“While un-displaced fractures can be treated in a cast for about four weeks, displaced fractures usually require surgery. This involves a manipulation of the fracture under general anaesthesia and using surgical pins and a cast to hold the fracture in position until the bone unites,” says Dr Lam.
“If you notice deformity, pain or swelling in your child’s elbow after a fall from a height, it could be a fracture. Very swollen elbows after this type of fracture can sometimes affect the blood circulation to the hand, making it a surgical emergency.” Adult supervision at the playground can help prevent more serious accidents.
This article first appeared in the December 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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