Children’s poems can teach you the importance of safe play and occupational risks to help both young and old reduce their chances of head injuries, according to an expert in The BMJ’s Christmas issue.
Declan Patton of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and Injury Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed seven popular children’s poems, including or presumed to include head injuries related to falls.
The victims are people of different ages, five little monkeys and an anthropomorphic egg.
For example, Humpty Dumpty, which is famous for a great fall from a wall, inspired tests on chicken eggs to study the biomechanics of head injuries in humans “due to the similarities between the two in shape and physical properties.”
in the meantime, Jack and Jill can give an idea of gender-based differences in head injuries and the use of protective equipment to reduce skull fractures. “Jack’s head injury and unnecessary treatment with vinegar and brown paper may have been avoided if he was wearing a helmet,” Patton said.
Rock-a-Bye Baby emphasizes the role of height and impact surface on the likelihood of head injury after a fall. Patton warns that because swings are not designed, tested and certified to fall – from tree tops or elsewhere – its impact resistance is unknown and may be insufficient. As such, he says that consumer products for children “should only be used for their intended purpose according to the manufacturer’s instructions”.
It falls from a standing height, as in Ring with roses, account for a quarter of head-related head injuries in those under 6 years of age. Patton says children who sing and dance to this rhyme “should be at low risk of head injury, but should perform it on energy-absorbing surfaces for added safety.”
It falls from springy surfaces such as beds – as in Five little monkeys – are also common. Patton suggested that while trampolines continue to be an important cause of head injuries in children and should be used under adult supervision, “one of the best ways to prevent injuries is to avoid monkeys around.”
Understanding the mechanism of a fall can give a good idea of the type of head injury that can occur, Patton explains.
For example, c Goose Guzi Gander, an old man was caught “by the left leg” and thrown down the stairs.
Although the age of the attacked man is not clear, Patton notes that almost half of adults aged 65 or over who fall down the stairs suffer a head injury. IN It’s raining, it’s raining, probably the old man injured his head when falling out of bed. Although the effectiveness of bed railings and bed alarms is questionable, Patton says advances in home surveillance technology “may have helped prevent the old man from falling, or at least detect the accident.”
These children’s poems have the potential to offer invaluable information on the biomechanics of head injuries – and provide an opportunity for parents and children to discuss how best to prevent injuries, Patton wrote.
He suggests that authors of future children’s poems “should take into account the risk factors associated with head injuries, especially when their characters may behave recklessly, such as jumping from a spring bed, falling off a wall, or falling from the top of a the tree or to be thrown down the stairs by unknown assailants ”.
In this way, readers, both young and old, can be taught the importance of safe play and occupational hazards and thus reduce their chances of head injury.“
Declan Patton, Center for Injury Research and Prevention and Concussion Program, Philadelphia Children’s Hospital
Reference in the magazine:
Patton, DA, (2021) We all fall: head injuries in the characters from children’s poems. BMJ. doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-068256.