Bouncing on a trampoline is undeniably fun for kids of all ages, but this summer pastime comes with serious risks.
A 2014 analysis by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found that an estimated 1 million hospital emergency department visits were from people injured in trampoline accidents from 2002 to 2011. Most of these injuries involved children.
Jeffrey Bair, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon with ProMedica Physicians, says most trampoline-related injuries occur in children under the age of 16. “Ninety percent of injuries are within the pediatric population and 30 percent of the injuries include fractures of the wrist, forearms and elbows,” explains Dr. Bair.
While most injuries to the upper extremities are fairly easy to treat, some trampoline accidents can result in more serious, even fatal injuries.
“Some injuries require urgent if not emergency surgery to put bones back where they are supposed to be to allow proper healing,” Dr. Bair says. “Injuries can also result in nerve or blood vessel damage that requires emergency surgery.”
Most children fully recover from trampoline-related injuries, despite a period of discomfort from damage that may result in a long recovery process. However, some injuries can result in long-term health complications. Spinal injuries and paralysis are not as common as fractures, but are still possible risks from trampoline use.
Dr. Bair isn’t the only one cautious of trampolines. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that trampolines “only be used in supervised training programs for gymnastics, diving, or other competitive sports” and not for personal use.
If you choose to have a home trampoline, Dr. Bair says parental supervision and observing safety warnings are absolutely necessary. Parents should inspect trampolines for damage before each use. A safety net can also help prevent kids from falling off or jumping onto or off the trampoline from another surface. Nets, however, don’t eliminate the risks entirely, as injuries can occur related to the netting as well.
Dr. Bair adds, “Regulate how many kids are jumping on your trampoline. The more kids you add to the mix, the more likely someone is going to jump onto another person or fall off, resulting in an injury.”
In addition to these guidelines, the AAP suggests that no somersaults be performed and no more than one jumper on the trampoline at a time.
Do you have a home trampoline? How do you use it safely?