Getting children to be physically active is among the top priorities of parents, educators and healthcare organisations around the world. Unfortunately, occasional injuries are part and parcel of the deal and their prevention is as important as promoting physical activity. In recent years there has been a global rise in the number of forearm fractures among children. With that in mind, a group of Dutch researchers developed and tested an educational programme designed to improve fall skills among children aged seven to 12.
The results of the study have been published in the current issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The team behind it comprises representatives of the VU University Medical Center and the Consumer Safety Institute, both located in Amsterdam.
The eight-week programme, implemented during PE classes, was tested in 33 primary schools and involved teaching children basic falling techniques employed in martial arts. The researchers collected data through questionnaires filled in by the children and kept a record of fall-related injuries throughout the school year.
A review of the data showed 36 injuries in the intervention group, while the figure for the control group was 96. Strong clustering effects render the comparison statistically insignificant, the report observes. However, it does not mean that the programme cannot deliver benefits, it goes on to note. When consideration was given to activity levels, the researchers identified a trend suggesting that such an educational programme could prove effective for preventing fall-related injuries among children with low levels of physical activity.