Over the past two decades, trampolines have become extremely popular, affordable, and easy to install in backyards across America. It has become an Olympic sport. Trampoline injuries among kids and adolescents, however, are common and can be severe, if not fatal. The classic ‘jumpy party’ is slowly being replaced with trampoline houses.
With children doing acrobatics and flips, the risks are high, including neck and head injuries. There were more than one million visits to Emergency Rooms across the country between 2002 and 2011 for trampoline injuries. The majority of fractures occurred in kids younger than 16, with a high rate of upper extremity injuries. Spinal fractures were rare – about 1 percent – and more frequent in older kids between 12-16 than in the younger population. This may be due to higher jumping forces in a heavier, older child, as well as slightly less flexibility and plasticity than the younger kids. Nearly all of these fractures occurred at home – >95%. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a warning against trampoline usage in 2012.
What can you do to minimize risk? There a few simple guidelines that may help reduce the chance of injury. While they seem simple and common sense, it is always good to hear them:
Have an adult supervise play
An adult should always be present when using a trampoline. Keep a close eye on kids to keep them in control of what they are doing, and minimize too much bumping into one another, as this can quickly lead to broken bones, bruises and tears.
Use a safety net
Every trampoline on the market today appears to come with a safety net to prevent falling off. These are not foolproof and can fail is struck too hard, especially by a bigger child. Be sure they are properly installed.
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Be sure the ground is level
An uneven trampoline can cause stresses to the structure that can lead to failure. One leg not quite on the ground may cause the trampoline to shift more than expected as the aluminum frame flexes. Be sure yours is properly installed.
One child at a time
Perhaps one of the hardest rules to follow, the trampoline is most safe if only one child is allowed to jump at a time. Multiple kids bouncing leads to uneven motion of the surface, and can throw a child in the air unexpectedly and in random directions, potentially crashing into another child and causing an injury. My experience typically is to see up to 12 kids at a time – this is clearly not a good idea and can quickly lead to disaster.
Be sure the trampoline is properly installed with safety padding
A portion of injuries occurs when kids land on the springs – typically about 100 of them, around the border. Be sure these are covered, as is the frame. Use the safety padding and replace it when it becomes brittle or tears.
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