Let’s reduce playground injuries without taking the fun away.
Playgrounds are a major part of child development … and, when designed and maintained right, they’re a heck of a lot of fun. Best friends are made on the playground. Adventure is had on the playground. Children grow by taking risks. Who doesn’t remember seeing who could jump the farthest or highest off the swings?
At Sonam, we want all of this to happen and more. We’re tired of hearing about swings being removed because they’re “too dangerous.” We’re tired of frivolous lawsuits as a result of a playground injury. We’re tired of seeing playgrounds become dull.
Over half of the playground injuries that result in a trip to the ER are because of a fall onto the surface – over the last few years there were over 100,000 such ER visits each year and over 5,500 children under the age of five who suffered a traumatic brain injury on a playground. We believe many of these can be prevented if the playground owner, and parents, know how safe the surface is on each day of play.
Parents and playground owners lack the knowledge today to fully understand if the playground safety surface is safe. Most insight on the surface is based on lab test data – not actual data from the surface in the field of play.
Sonam Technologies, Inc. was created with the single goal of making playgrounds around the world safe for play. Our easy to use, patent pending ST Impact Analyzer quickly assesses brain injury risk levels upon impact with a playground or sports surface.
About the Company
Over the past decade there has been a significant and growing public awareness of the dangers of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s), especially pediatric TBI’s. The goal of Sonam Technologies is to develop cutting edge technology that allows for the quick, easy, and accurate measurement of the impact absorbing properties of surface systems within a variety of recreational environments. Sonam Technologies, LLC was formed in September of 2013.
Our initial product offering, the ST Impact Analyzer, was developed so that owner/operators of playgrounds could quickly assess the relative condition of the play surface. What is critically important in this assessment is the surfaces ability to minimize the risk of pediatric TBI’s. This is extremely important due to the fact that 70%+ of all injuries at playgrounds are as the direct result of a fall to the surface.
Historically the ability to assess the surface’s condition was very time consuming and expensive. The existing technology platform required several people to operate, was difficult to set up, and is beyond the financial ability for most to afford. We decided to go a different direction; make it simple. Technology is inherently useless if it is too difficult or expensive to use. With this in mind we went to work to develop a completely portable test device that took advantage of cutting edge technology and was priced at a level where most if not all interested parties could afford it.
Market – U.S.
There are recently published studies through the CDC and JAMA that suggest the incidence of pediatric TBI’s is of growing concern. According to these studies, as many as 80,000 children per year suffer a minor to severe TBI as the result a fall at a playground where their head hits the surface. Until the introduction of the ST Impact Analyzer, even the most proactive management of playgrounds was missing the key component of surface condition. Because of the financial and technical limitations of test equipment prior to the ST Impact Analyzer most park districts and school districts used a simple visual assessment as a means of measuring the relative condition of a surface system. The inherent risk here is that without empirical data to support that initial visual inspection the organization opens itself up to increased levels of risk associated with injury related liability.
In the United States the estimate for number of public playgrounds is one for every 2,500 citizens. This does not account for private playgrounds or day-care centers. If you assume a normal distribution for various population densities that would put the total at a minimum of 132,000.
Chris Hanson– I have 30 years of sales, management, and business development experience and have been involved directly in the playground industry for the past 15 years. The majority of my experience in the playground industry has been within the surfacing market segment. My primary job responsibilities have been sales management and product development. I have served as a paid consultant to numerous companies within the playground industry both in the past and currently. I serve on multiple committees within The American Society for Testing and Measurement (ASTM) directly related to the playground industry. I am also a board member for the surfacing committee at the International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association. I hold a bachelors in Economics from DePaul University and a Masters in Business Administration from Governors State University.
Michael Hanson – A lifelong resident of the Chicago metropolitan area I am a graduate of Purdue University with over 15 years experience in engineering. While most of my professional experience has focused in the power, petrochemical and water treatment industries I have applied my skills to the playground and recreation field. Coming from such a drastically different field has allowed me to take an outsider look at the current standards and technologies used to regulate and test playground and athletic surfacing and develop novel engineered and administrative tools to help our customer base of playground operators and surfacing manufacturers manage their risks more effectively. Good engineering practices and interpretation of relevant design standards is a skill set that transfers well. For the past 3 years I have focused my efforts on research and development, engineering, design, testing, and overall project management. As the father of five children under the age of 10 my interest in the work that we are doing at Sonam is both personal and professional.