Kuala Lumpur, April 25: As families gear up and make plans to celebrate Raya on May 3, it is important that parents take into consideration the safety of their children during the festive season.
Children are easily excitable whilst playing, they are more susceptible to falls and bumps during the celebrations – hence parents need to ensure they are kept safe to prevent any untoward injuries.
The Ministry of Health has found that falls are the most common injuries to occur within the comfort of one’s home, with children aged between one to four being more prone as they explore the world around them whilst their bodies and bones are developing.
Dr Maria Wong, Consultant Orthopaedic, Trauma and Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon from Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) said that these injuries tend to see an increase during the festive seasons as there is more movement and travelling involved.
She explained that the most common fractures in children tend to occur in the elbows, forearms and wrists as they try to break their falls by landing on outstretched hands.
“Different fracture patterns can be observed in different age groups. For young children under the age of four, incomplete fracture patterns such as plastic deformation (the deformation of a bone), buckle (when a bone slightly crushes in on itself) and greenstick fractures (when a bone bends and cracks) can happen without obvious severe deformity.
“Sometimes older children may have a growth plate injury – all of this may be overlooked as a simple bruise or soft tissue injury,” she said.
A key sign that the injury is not just a simple fall would be the reactions that these children have to the affected areas.
Dr Maria adds that young children may not be able to articulate their symptoms or pinpoint the exact location of the injury, so adults should pay attention to their reactions and lookout for signs that are out of the ordinary.
“A witnessed fall or injury leading to progressive pain and swelling over the limb after 48-hours is a sign that there may be a fracture.
“The child may refuse to use the limb or cry upon touching or moving the joint.”
When to bring your child to the ER
While it can be scary for both child and parent to make a trip to the hospital following a fall, it is key to act quickly to prevent the injury from progressing.
Dr Wee Tong Ming, Medical Director and Consultant Emergency Physician from SMCV explains that parents should seek treatment immediately if there is severe pain or deformity of the affected limb.
“If the child refuses to move or use the injured limb, or if the swelling does not subside after 48 hours, they should visit a doctor.”
“Early treatment is important. For displaced fractures, when the bone fragments are out of alignment, splinting is needed as excessive movement may cause secondary injuries to the surrounding structures such as nerves and blood vessels.
Even for milder injuries, it is crucial to seek early treatment as well – the fracture may be missed without investigations such as x-rays.
For injuries such as a growth plate fracture, delayed diagnosis and treatment may cause stunted growth of the affected bones and impact a child’s life,” he said.
In most cases, healing from bone fractures can take anywhere from six to12 weeks, depending on the fracture site.
Dr Wee encourages parents to ensure that the child follows the treatment plan given by the doctor, which may involve casting or splinting of the limb, and even surgery.
Emotional support throughout the journey is also important so that the children know that this is all part of the necessary recovery process.
Aside from encouragement from the parents, Dr Maria notes that some time out in the sun – with proper supervision – is beneficial.
“A good dose of sunshine helps with Vitamin D absorption which is crucial for strong bones development. A diet or formula milk fortified with Vitamin D and calcium is great for growing bones,” she said.
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