It looked like an acrobatic stunt went awry. Kelan Metzler-Pell, 5, was running on the playground at his Walnut Grove pre-kindergarten when he took a tumble and landed doing the splits.
“At first it appeared to be a simple fall,” says his mother, Valerie Metzler, of Rio Vista. “But his pain didn’t go away and Kelan couldn’t be consoled.”
By the time she collected her son and raced to NorthBay Medical Center, two hours had passed.
Once they reached the hospital, things happened fast. He was immediately admitted to the emergency department, examined and sent for x-rays.
“The first thing the doctor told me was that Kelan’s left femur was completely fractured and he would need surgery,” Valerie says. The femur, or thigh bone, is the largest bone in the leg.
Falls are the No. 1 cause of pediatric trauma seen at NorthBay’s emergency departments.
Arrangements were made to transport Kelan by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. “Everyone in the Fairfield ED made it so easy for him,” Valerie says. “I was surprised at how well my son took it all. They quickly splinted his leg and even gave him pain meds, which I didn’t think a small child could get.”
More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated for playground-related injuries every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And, close to half of those injuries are severe—fractures, internal injuries, concussions, and dislocations.
Falls are the No. 1 cause of pediatric trauma seen at NorthBay’s emergency departments
Looking back, the entire experience is a blur for Metzler.
“I was so worried,” she says. “Until then, Kelan hadn’t even cut his finger so I was a mess. The staff was very cool and calm. They calmed me down… I’m one of those moms who asks a million questions and the staff was so good at dealing with me.”
Kelan underwent surgery the next day at Oakland Children’s Hospital. Two flexible nails were placed inside his femur in a technique called internal fixation. This meant he could avoid wearing a cast on his leg while he healed.
After two nights in the hospital, he was sent home. His follow-up care was handled by his pediatrician, Judy Yang, D.O., at the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville.
Today, Kelan is back in school and walking, although he won’t be running soon.