Although he is a radiologist now, my dad was a pediatrician when I was growing up. Maybe it was due to injuries he had seen in his clinic, but my brother and I were never allowed to have two things – motorcycles and trampolines. We never questioned it. As an orthopaedic surgeon, I could write for days about injuries from motorcycles. But as a sports medicine surgeon, I am more interested in discussing trampoline injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a position statement recently. In it, the AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness shares recent statistics on trampoline injuries and offers some tips to avoid these injuries.
Statistics on trampoline injuries
Injuries from trampoline use increased throughout the 1990’s and peaked in 2004 with over 111,000 injuries estimated across the United States. Injuries have declined since 2004, as have sales of trampolines. However, indoor trampoline parks have become popular. These play areas could create an increase in injuries among children.
As you might expect, injury rates differ by age group. For kids aged 0 to 4, the injury rate was 70 per 100,000 in 2009, while children aged 5 to 14 had an injury rate of 160 per 100,000.
Risk Factors for trampoline injuries
Multiple children on a trampoline at the same time: About three-fourths of injuries occur with multiple people jumping. The smaller jumpers are 14 times more likely to get hurt than the heavy jumpers.
Falls: Over 27% of trampoline injuries occur from falls off of trampolines. Netting and other enclosures haven’t been shown to decrease injuries from falls significantly.
Contact with trampoline springs: About 20% of trampoline injuries result from impact with the frames and springs. Again, evidence suggests that use of padding hasn’t decreased injuries much.
What should parents do to prevent kids from getting hurt on trampolines? The obvious answer is that parents should discourage their children from using them. If they insist, then parents should keep the following suggestions in mind.
• Parents should actively watch their children. Simply being present likely does nothing to prevent kids from getting hurt.
• Allow only one child on a trampoline at a time.
• Despite the fact that it won’t prevent every injury, make sure the trampoline has appropriate padding.
• Make sure the trampoline sits on a level surface and has no trees or other nearby hazardous objects.
• Kids shouldn’t perform flips and somersaults, as they can cause catastrophic head and cervical spine injuries.