Child’s play injures almost seven million parents

13 September 2019 . United Kingdom

  • Two in five parents are injured while playing with their children, and can expect an average of five injuries before their child reaches the age of 10  
  • More than 13 million working days have been lost to play time strains and sprains
  • Injuries are caused by bouncy castles, slides and rough and tumble as well as stepping on toys
  • Bupa UK Insurance has launched a new guide to help mums and dads play safely
Child on swing

It’s September and parents have kept up with their kids all summer, but new research from Bupa UK Insurance has shown that 6.7 million parents have experienced back and neck injuries, muscle strains and sprains during playtime1.

The latest research from the health insurer shows that 13.4 million working days have been lost in the past year to “parental pains”, with mums and dads experiencing an average of five injuries of varying severity before their child reaches the age of 10.  

Common causes of injuries among playful parents include lifting their children onto play equipment (22%), running after their children (20%) or being ‘played on’ (19%), but others report injuring themselves at school sports days, on bouncy castles and by going down a child’s slide. In unique cases injuries were caused by kicking a large stone buried in a sandpit and getting carried away with acting out a bedtime story3.

But while a significant number of parents have experienced injuries including sprains and strains, back and neck pain, pulled muscles or even broken bones4, just 15% have spoken to a specialist, risking making their injuries worse and lengthening recovery times.

Many (37%) of those who ditched the doctor reported being ‘too busy’ to visit their GP. But instead of seeking medical advice, a quarter (23%) of the nation’s parents are patching themselves up with painkillers, or even just waiting for the pain to pass (14%).

To help parents keep up with their active children, Bupa UK Insurance has released a new guide designed to keep parents injury-free.

Dr Damian McClelland, Clinical Director for Musculoskeletal Services at Bupa UK Insurance, comments on the findings: “Playing with your children can be one of the biggest joys as a parent, and can be great for bonding and development, but our research has shown it isn’t without risk.

“In my clinic I’ve seen my fair share of parents suffering serious injuries such as shoulder dislocations and fractures resulting in time off work and, in some cases, surgery. Suffering an injury can be disruptive for parents looking after active young children, and our guide aims to help mums and dads ensure they’re not risking their health during playtime.

“For those who do find themselves with “parental pains” our Direct Access service allows health insurance customers to skip the GP referral and see a specialist right away, to get back to quality family time as soon as possible.”

Avoiding parental playground injuries infographic

Notes to editor

Research conducted among 2,004 UK adults incorporating 1,040 parents and grandparents by Opinium Research, online between 19-22 August 2019.

1 In a nationally representative survey of 2,004 UK adults, 619 said they are parents (approved as nationally representative by Opinium Research) 619 / 2004 * 52,383,000 (UK adult population) = 16,180,178. Of those 619 parents, 256 said they were injured whilst playing with their children. 256 / 619 * 16,180,178 = 6,691,641 or 6.7 million

2 Working parents reported taking an average of 1.1 working days off each year for injuries (16,180178 * (344/456)) * 1.1 = 13,426,709 , or 13.4 million days

3 Injuries at school sports days (8%), on bouncy castles (7%), by going down a child’s slide (12%) or even in one case, being tricked into kicking a large stone buried in a sandpit and doing actions whilst reading a bedtime story

4 Back pain (18%) and neck pain (95), pulled muscles (12%) or even broken bones (respondents told us about broken wrists, toes, feet and noses)

For more information please contact:

Tabby Haysom

Third City PR

T: 020 3668 6903


About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 16.7m customers and contributes around 75% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with around 15m customers. We care for around 22,300 residents in our aged care businesses in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, the US, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

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