The number of children presenting at the VHI SwiftCare Clinics rocketed by more than 80% last September, compared to the previous month.
There were almost 3,000 who had suffered minor injuries or illnesses, compared with 1,600 in August.
Top presentations were for limb injuries — 650 patients, a 65% increase on August.
More than 30 children were treated for non-serious head injuries, an 82% increase, and more than 40 were treated for ankle injuries, compared to 25 the previous month.
VHI medical director Dr Brian Gaffney said that, even allowing for the fact that people might be on holiday in August, the figures were very stark.
“While the injuries themselves are not life-threatening they can be very unpleasant for the children involved and can really get the new school year off on the wrong footing,” he said.
Dr Gaffney said parents should try to teach young children proper playground behaviour — no pushing or shoving and waiting their turn to use a swing or slide.
“We see many accidents where children have suffered a bump as a result of walking in front or behind a swing or where another child has come down a slide immediately after them and banged into them.
“While school playgrounds are mostly supervised, there is only so much a teacher or assistant can do to prevent accidents.”
Older children trying a new sport should be told to listen to the instructor and follow their advice.
“Many sprains and breaks as a result of young teenagers throwing themselves into a new sport before they have learned how to play properly. Not only can a break or sprain prevent them from playing a sport for some time, it can also put a child off a particular sport in the future, which is a terrible shame.”
Dr Gaffney said parents should remove hood and neck drawstrings from coats and jumpers of children of all ages.
“Strangulation is a very serious issue and can be so easily avoided,” he said.
Parents should also ensure that children cycling to school wear an approved helmet, are practiced in using brakes correctly and don’t travel too fast, particularly on hilly or uneven surfaces.