Trampolines aren't just fun and games
“Watch this!” cries your youngest child, as his older sibling bounces him high into the air on the backyard trampoline. Your child is all giggles and smiles as he quickly flies into the air and lands with a big bounce on the trampoline’s giving surface. Your child bounces a few more times, until he finally comes to a stop. What may seem like all fun and games at the time, can quickly take a turn for the worse when someone gets hurt.
This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a statement discouraging the recreational use of trampolines. The AAP advises pediatricians to actively discourage trampoline use and to educate parents on the dangers of trampolines for kids.
Trampoline injury rates have been steadily decreasing since 2004, however, in 2009, there were an estimated 98,000 trampoline-related injuries in the U.S., including 3,100 hospitalizations. Even though safety precautions, such as adding padding and protective netting can be taken, studies show this does not help decrease the risk of injury, and the AAP states that most injuries occur on the mat itself.
Risk of InjuryMost injuries occur when there are multiple people jumping on the trampoline, such as in the popular game “popcorn”. The smallest and/or the youngest child is also at greatest risk for serious injury. Many parents think that because the trampoline has a soft mat, kids don’t feel the impact- but they do. For example, if a young child, between 40 and 50 lbs., is bounced by a larger person or adult, they are sent flying through the air and land hard on the mat, which is equivalent to falling 5 to 10 feet above the ground onto a hard surface.
Common injuries for all age groups include sprains, strains, and bruises. In small children, 48% of trampoline injuries involved fractures and dislocated joints. 27-29% of all injuries were a result of falling off a trampoline, which can lead to permanent nerve and spinal damage. Many of these injuries occurred without adult supervision.
ConclusionThe top priority of many parents is the safety of their kids. Talk to your kids about the dangers of home trampolines and discourage the use of them. If your child has access to a trampoline, ensure that there is adult supervision. However, know that injuries can happen even when there is an adult present.
For more information, see the AAP’s updated policy statement, “Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence”.