The Trouble With Trampolines
Children love jumping and playing on trampolines. However, even when safety precautions are observed, trampoline play can cause serious, permanent injury.
Bouncing on a trampoline can feel, for a moment, almost like flying. Perhaps that’s why home trampolines are so popular. Unfortunately, trampolines are also responsible for hundreds of thousands of injuries every year. Trampoline injury is common even among seasoned athletes with substantial training, sophisticated equipment, and professional spotters.
Children love to jump with more than one person on the trampoline, but multiple children on trampoline equipment increase the risk that someone is going to fall off, or that children will collide with each other.
The most common trampoline injuries include broken bones, concussions, sprains, bruises and cuts, and head and neck injuries. The majority of injuries occur in children between the ages of five and fourteen. Nearly two-thirds of these injuries are the result of two or more children using the trampoline together. Not all of these injuries are serious, but data shows that the medical, legal, insurance, and disability costs of all trampoline injuries exceed four billion dollars. Over the years, injury caused by trampolines has prompted organizations, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to discourage recreational use of trampoline equipment.
Nets, padding, and adult supervision may make trampolines appear safer, but these precautions have not prevented injuries resulting from the following activities:
- Landing incorrectly while jumping.
- Landing on the head or neck while attempting flips or somersaults.
- Attempting stunts.
- Collisions between children playing together on a trampoline.
- Falling or jumping off a trampoline.
- Landing on trampoline springs or the supporting frame.
There is significant data confirming the large number of trampoline-related injuries, and pediatric orthopedic surgeons have published in family practice journals about these injuries. Many accidents occur when children come off a trampoline, but injuries are not confined to foot and ankle. Children have suffered broken backs, broken necks, broken arms, and broken elbows. The nets used as a safety measure don’t help as much as you’d think they would. Children younger than six years of age are at greatest risk. In fact, the AAOS recommends that children age six or under should not use a trampoline.
The AAP and AAOS recommend that trampolines never be used at home, in routine gym classes, or on playgrounds. Of course, kids are going to be kids, and they want to do fun things. We suggest other, safer team sports or activities like biking—with a helmet, of course!
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