My son Nory loves to play soccer. Every day he practices and plays at his high school, on the weekends at a park in Coconut Grove- and much to the dismay of his mother- throughout our house. At times he seems to have a soccer ball attached to his foot. But as a father and a lawyer who focuses on representing injured children; I worry about him getting hurt while playing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fall injuries are the most common types of children’s injuries in our country. Fall down accidents and injuries occur when a child slips and falls or trips and falls and sustains a serious injury. Every day over 8,000 children aged 0-19 are treated for fall down injuries in U.S. emergency rooms- this translates to nearly 3 million children a year. As children’s injury lawyers in Miami, we believe that most fall down injuries can be prevented- and parents, teachers, coaches, and supervisors have a key role in protecting children and avoiding injuries.
Common Injuries From “Fall Down” Accidents
The most common children’s injury from a fall down accident is a torn anterior cruciate ligament or A.C.L. These injuries can especially occur when kids are playing soccer either at organized games and practices at schools or just pick up games at the local park. An A.C.L. injury is debilitating and requires an orthopedic surgeon to evaluate and often operate to repair them. If surgery is required, these kids will miss a considerable amount of time from school and the rest of the season.
In fact, a paper, soon to be published, claims that the number of A.C.L. operations at 26 children’s hospitals in the United States has soared as more children play sports that involve twisting the knee, like soccer and basketball and football. In 2004, there were about 500 A.C.L. operations at those hospitals; ten years later in 2014, there were more than 2,500.
Until recently, most people believed that after recovering from a torn A.C.L. repair the child should regain the full use of his knee. This is predicated in part on what we see on television when a big NFL player tears an A.C.L.- they almost always return later in the season or the following season as good as new. A recently study however has shown that while there is a period of good function after an A.C.L. or another tendon surgical repair- most will develop arthritis due to bone bruises in the cartilage or even a genetic predisposition- that will return later in life and potentially require a total knee replacement by the age of 25 and perhaps a second and third replacement over the course of his life- coupled with a lifetime of pain.
Orthopedic surgeons had long known that torn tendons or ligaments put patients, no matter how young, at risk for arthritis. But quantifying the long-term risk for arthritis had been difficult because most pediatric patients are not studied for extended periods after their injuries.
This week, Dr. Mininder Kocher, at Harvard Medical School, released data that shows that the chance of getting arthritis within a decade of tearing a tendon or a ligament in the knee is greater than 50 percent. And for young patients that could mean 60 or 70 years of ongoing knee pain and difficulty walking.
While knee injuries received the most attention in research on arthritis risk, other joints are at risks such as sprained ankles and dislocated shoulders. We recommend that if your child injured a ligament or tendon that you consult with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in A.C.L. operations rather than a general orthopedist. Generally, these doctors can be found at major medical schools like the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Contacting a Child Injury Lawyer
If your child has been hurt due to a slip, trip or fall at school, a shopping mall, parking lot, convenience store, cruise ship, fast food restaurant or grocery store– you should consult with an experienced children’s injury lawyer. Our office offers free initial consultations to the parents or guardians of any child who has been involved in an accident. We have over 30 years of combined legal experience representing injured children across the state of Florida. We are passionate about child safety and protecting the legal rights of children. Call us today toll-free 1-866-597-4529, local 305-441-0440 or send us an email at [email protected] and speak to an experienced children’s injury lawyer today. We are ready to help.