Our Hamilton personal injury firm specializes in representing of kids throughout Ontario who have been hurt in car accident, bicycle accident and pedestrian accident cases. One of the important issues that we often see from clinical productions in these cases and often discussed through many operative consultations notes is growth plates plate fractures. What are growth plates? Why are they important? What complications could children suffer with fractures across their growth plates? What compensation are kids entitled to if they suffer growth plate fractures? These are all issues that we look at in this article.
Remember, if your child has suffered serious injuries in an accident we are here to help. Matt Lalande has been representing kids in bog cases since 2003. You can reach him – no matter where you are in Ontario, at 1-844-LALANDE or alternatively, if you local are in the Southern Ontario by calling us at 905-333-8888. If you would prefer, send us a private email through our website by clicking here, or chat live with our live chat operator 24/7 to learn your child’s rights and let our child accident lawyers help your family today.
Growth plates, also known as “epiphyseal” plates, are specialized areas of cartilage found in the ends of the long bones in kids and teens. These plates are important for bone growth and development. As a child grows, these plates facilitate the elongation of bones by continuously producing new bone tissue. Over time, as a teen approaches adulthood and completes their growth, the growth plates gradually harden and fuse and turn into solid bone. Once this fusion is complete, the bones no longer grow in length, marking the end of the bone’s growth potential.
Children’s bones, while similar to adults in many ways, have a unique vulnerability as they are susceptible to injuries in the growth plates as their bones start to solidify.
Growth plates, located near the ends of a child’s bones, play a very important role in determining the future length and shape of the mature bone.
When fractures occur across these growth plates, the implications can be quite profound and long-lasting. One of the major complications arising from fractures in the areas is the potential for disrupted bone growth. If the fracture isn’t treated quickly or correctly, it can lead to a limb growing crooked or unequal in length compared to its counterpart.
In some cases, a bony bridge might form across the fracture line, hindering the bone’s growth or causing it to curve. Early intervention can address this with minor surgeries, but a delayed diagnosis might necessitate more complex procedures.
Surgery, while often necessary to realign and stabilize the fractured bone, comes with it’s own set of complications. The surgical procedure itself can inadvertently damage the growth plate or surrounding tissues, leading to growth disturbances.
Post-surgical infections, though rare, can also impact the growth plate’s health and function. Furthermore, the hardware used in surgeries, such as screws or plates, might interfere with bone growth if they impinge on the growth plate.
Growth plate fractures are typically classified according what is called the “Salter-Harris” classification system – which is the most widely used method.
The system was developed by Robert Salter and Robert Harris, and classifies fractures based on their appearance on X-rays and their involvement with the growth plate and adjacent bones. The classification consists of five primary types:
Type 1: the fracture occurs directly through the growth plate, separating the bone end from the bone shaft without involving the bone itself. The growth plate is entirely disrupted.
Type 2: this is the most common type of fracture. The fracture runs through a part of the growth plate and extends down into the bone shaft.
Type 3: The fracture crosses a portion of the growth plate and breaks into the epiphysis. This type of fracture is more common in older children and can extend into the joint, potentially affecting joint function.
Type 4: This fracture crosses the bone shaft, the growth plate, and the epiphysis (bone end). It can disrupt the growth plate’s function and potentially lead to growth disturbances if not treated appropriately.
Type 5: A rare type, this fracture results from a compression or crushing force directly applied to the growth plate. The growth plate gets compressed without a clear fracture line seen on X-rays.
Fractures across growth plates can lead to many complications, some of which could in fact have lasting and permanent effects:
Disrupted Bone Growth: One of the primary concerns with growth plate fractures is the potential for disrupted or uneven bone growth – or in other words is when the damaged bone doesn’t grow as rapidly or extensively as its counterpart resulting in uneven limb length. The problem then is that biomechanical changes could become a challenge as the child gets older.
This discrepancy can cause issues such as gait alterations, hip problems (early onset arthritis or other degenerative changes) and increase the risk of hip labral tears and bursitis. A person can also end up suffering from serious back issues. if the the hips tilt out of line, this could force the spine to curve in an attempt to keep the body upright.. This compensatory curvature, known as scoliosis, can lead to serious chronic back pain, muscle spasms, and disc degeneration (herniations and bulging) because of the uneven distribution of weight.
Bone Deformity: when fractures across the growth plate occurs, the bone’s natural growth process can be disrupted, leading to potential deformities. The growth plate determines both the rate and direction of bone growth. If a fracture damages this area and it doesn’t heal correctly, the bone might grow at an irregular rate or in an abnormal direction. For instance, a section of the growth plate might close prematurely due to the injury, forming a “bony bridge.” This bridge can restrict growth on one side of the bone, while the other side continues to grow, leading to a curved or misshapen bone. Additionally, if the fractured growth plate heals in a misaligned position, it can result in the bone growing crookedly. Over time, these deformities can lead to functional challenges, altered biomechanics, and aesthetic concerns.
Joint Problems: Growth plates, situated near the ends of long bones in children, are in close proximity to major joints such as the knee, ankle, wrist, and elbow.
When fractures occur across these growth plates, they can directly or indirectly impact the adjacent joint’s structure and function. For instance, if a fracture extends into the joint surface, it can disrupt the smooth articulating surface, leading to irregular joint movement and potential early-onset arthritis.
Additionally, if the growth plate doesn’t heal properly or becomes misaligned, it can result in joint misalignment, causing uneven distribution of weight and stress across the joint. Over time, this can accelerate joint wear and tear, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
In addition, when the body normally compensates in response to the altered joint biomechanics, there can be strain surrounding ligaments and tendons, increasing the risk of sprains and other joint-related injuries. Thus, fractures involving growth plates have the potential to introduce a cascade of joint issues, emphasizing the importance of prompt and appropriate treatment in children.
Stiffness and Reduced Mobility: After the fracture and subsequent healing, the affected limb might become stiff or have reduced mobility, especially if the child had to wear a cast for an extended period.
Overgrowth: Paradoxically, in some cases, the fractured bone might grow longer than its uninjured counterpart. This overgrowth is thought to be a response to the trauma.
Are kids entitled to compensation if they’ve suffered serious fractures to their growth plates? Generally yes – if the injuries are serious and permanent and interrupt the child’s overall function. Normally the (non-exhaustive) factors taken into consideration for an award for pain and suffering will be the age of the child or teen; the nature of the injury; the severity and duration of pain; the extent of the disability; the child’s emotional suffering; the loss of that child’s impairment of life; the impairment of the child’s physical and mental abilities and the loss of the child’s lifestyle.
If there’s an element of complication or permanence to the child’s injuries, then a life care plan will be necessary. A life care plan, within the realm of personal injury law, is a report which provides a structured, detailed projection of the medical and non-medical needs of a child who has suffered a significant injury.
The life care plan is crucial because children, due to their age and developmental stages, may have unique and long-term needs that differ from adults. A life care plan typically encompasses a comprehensive assessment of the child’s current and future medical requirements, therapeutic interventions, assistive devices, projected surgeries, medications, and any other necessary support or services.
Additionally, it may address educational needs, vocational training, and other aspects of daily living that might be affected by the child’s injuries. The primary objective of a life care plan is to ensure that the injured child receives optimal care and support throughout their lifetime, taking into account the challenges and changes they might face as they grow and develop. In the context of personal injury law, this plan plays a pivotal role in litigation, as it helps in quantifying the damages and financial compensation required to adequately support the injured child’s needs.
Projecting a child’s future is not an easy but necessary task in some cases. If the child’s fractures are severe enough to pose life-long complications and his or work life will be affected then that particular claim will need to be assessed and investigated in order to determine a proper range of compensation.
In a Canadian personal injury lawsuit involving a child, determining the future loss of income can be a complex process, as it requires projecting the potential earnings your child might have generated had he or she not been injured.
Occupational therapists that our child lawyers work with can play a pivotal role in this determination. They can assess your child’s functional abilities, limitations, and potential for rehabilitation. By understanding your child’s physical and cognitive capabilities, they can provide insights into the types of occupations your child might be able to pursue in the future, despite their injuries. This information is invaluable in gauging the range of potential earnings your child might achieve.
Vocational testing is another essential tool in this process. It evaluates your child’s aptitudes, interests, and skills. By comparing these results with labor market trends and wage data, experts can project potential career paths and the associated earnings for your child. This testing helps in narrowing down the occupations your child might have been likely to pursue and provides a more precise estimation of potential income.
Furthermore, your education and work history as parent(s) are also considered significant indicators. Historically, children often follow similar educational and vocational paths as their parents. For instance, if a parent has a doctoral degree and works in a high-paying profession, it might be inferred that the child had a higher probability of pursuing advanced education and a similarly lucrative career. Conversely, if the parent has limited education and works in a low-wage job, the child’s projected earnings might unfortunately be adjusted accordingly. While this is not a definitive measure, it provides context and a baseline for estimations.
Since 2003, child injury lawyer Matt Lalande has represented children across Ontario who have suffered complex injuries such as serious fractures requiring surgery, brain injuries and spinal cord trauma.
As a pediatric injury lawyers, our firm can serve as a crucial support system and help navigate the complexities of the legal system while ensuring that the child’s best interests are always at the forefront.
We also endeavor to work close with parents through their child’s case – as we understand the immense strain and emotional turmoil that parents undergo when their child is injured. There’s no doubt that the sight of their child in pain or distress can evoke intense feelings of helplessness and sorrow. The weight of medical decisions, financial burdens, and the emotional toll can be tremendously overwhelming and paralyzing. Our goal is to do our best to find relief for parents – and children – through these challenging times and fight to ensure the future of the child is financially protected.
Call us today, no matter where you are in Ontario, at 1-844-LALANDE or alternatively, if you are local in the Southern Ontario region by calling us at 905-333-8888. If you would prefer, send us a private email through our website by clicking here, or chat live with our live chat operator 24/7 – and let our family help yours.
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Growth plates are areas of developing cartilage found in children’s long bones that determine the bone’s final length and shape.
Growth plate fractures represent 15-30% of all childhood bone breaks, often resulting from falls or sports-related incidents.
Injuries to the growth plate can lead to bone length discrepancies, angular deformities, or joint issues. Immediate treatment is crucial.
Yes, hiring an experienced pediatric child injury lawyer can help secure compensation for medical expenses and future treatments related to the injury.
Select a lawyer with expertise in pediatric growth plate injuries and verify their track record and client testimonials before making a decision.