Last summer, Michelle Pack was just doing what parents do in every playground across the country—helping her daughter on the slide. At 14 months, Annetta was too young to go alone, so Michelle went down the slide with her daughter nestled between her legs.
That evening Annetta, who had been walking since she was 10 months old, would not put weight on her leg. By the next morning she wouldn’t stand in her crib, so Michelle took her to Anne Arundel Medical Center’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists.
Orthopedic surgeon Edward Holt, MD, confirmed that Annetta had broken her leg while sliding with her mother. “I see about seven or eight of this type of fracture every year,” says Dr. Holt.
It happens when the grippy sole of a toddler’s shoe prevents his or her foot from sliding forward. The shoe sticks, but the weight and momentum of the parent twists and breaks the child’s leg. Often, the parent doesn’t even realize it’s happened, as was the case with Michelle and Annetta.
“It’s not something that needs surgery,” says Dr. Holt. “Usually they just need a cast, but the parent is devastated that he or she broke the child’s leg.”
Like most parents, Michelle says she had never heard about the risks of sliding with a toddler. Dr. Holt says it isn’t being publicized in the medical community either. So, about four years ago, he began to campaign for public awareness on sliding board safety. The word has been spreading steadily since he received attention in The New York Times and in local news outlets.
Last fall, in a partnership with Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, AAMC posted signs to educate parents and care providers of the risks of sliding with a toddler. The signs are posted at every Anne Arundel County playground.
“My recommendation for parents who want their 2-year-olds to go on the slide is to let them go by themselves,” says Dr. Holt. “Or, if they feel compelled to slide with the child, take the rubber-soled tennis shoes off first.”