Trampoline Injuries: Visits to Emergency Rooms are Jump'n
Marilyn was sitting in the backyard reading her book while several kids played on the neighbor’s trampoline. Their joy at this new found fun was exemplified by bouts of laughter, gleeful screams, and various authoritative instructions given by one child to another. It all seemed like innocent fun until the laughter was interrupted by an eerie silence.
As Marilyn approached her neighbor’s yard she saw several kids quietly huddled around their injured friend. It seems the young boy fell off the trampoline landing flat on his back. When the paramedics arrived, they carefully strapped the boy to a backboard immobilizing his head, neck and spine for the trip to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, stories similar to this one are becoming all too common.
The statistics in the following table reflect the number of trampoline related injuries treated in emergency rooms.
|Year||Number Injured||Age Group||Source|
|1995||52,103||Under age 15||American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)|
|1995||66,153||Not reported||National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (CPSC)|
|1996||83,000*||More than 75%* under age 15||Center for Disease Prevention (CDC)|
|1998||95,000*||About 75%* under age 15||Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)|
* Reporting agency estimate
A simple analysis of the above statistics is staggering! Since 1995, the number of injuries has increased between 30% and 45%.
Further, the CDC conservatively stated that about 10% of trampoline related injuries affect the head and neck. Although many injuries are minor (e.g. bruises), some can be serious such as broken bones, blunt trauma, and paralysis. Fortunately, death is a rare occurrence. The CPSC reported 6 deaths since 1990.
Often viewed as a toy, many people are not aware of the dangers associated with trampoline use. Many are surprised to learn that most injuries occur on trampolines purchased for home use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that trampolines never be purchased for home use and advises parents never to let their children use someone else’s trampoline. Further, the American Medical Association advocates that children should never be allowed to play on a trampoline, even under adult supervision.
Basic Trampoline Safety
Most people have seen a full-size trampoline, which consists of a large sheet of flexible fabric attached to a metal frame with springs and hooks. Most trampolines stand three feet above the ground. Keeping this in mind, consider the following safety tips:
- Thoroughly read the informative material provided by the trampoline manufacturer and/or dealer. Share this information with anyone who will be using the trampoline.
- Proper placement of the trampoline is critical. Analyze the intended location and surroundings. Do not place the trampoline close to buildings, playground equipment, swimming pools, roadways, power lines, or trees. Use common sense - keep in mind a child can bounce 10 feet or more in the air from a trampoline.
- Make sure the springs, hooks, and frame is securely covered with a sturdy shock-absorbing pad made for trampoline use.
- Several feet around and under the trampoline should be covered with shock-absorbing material. Check the trampoline owner’s manual for recommended materials. Many dealers sell special padding for this purpose.
- Periodically check the trampoline for wear. This includes the frame structure (e.g. screws, bolts) as well as the springs, hooks, and fabric base.
Tips for Use
- Keep ladders, step stools, chairs and any means to climb away from the trampoline. This can help prevent unauthorized or unattended use by small children.
- Do not use a trampoline during hours of darkness (e.g. sunset).
- Before using a trampoline, perform several warm up exercises.
- Children always require adult supervision. Children are not always able to judge distances, foresee danger, or react quickly in certain situations.
- It doesn’t matter how old the person is that is using the trampoline - at least two adults are needed as ‘spotters’ to help prevent anyone from falling off the trampoline.
- One at a time! More than one person on a trampoline can be dangerous. The CDC reported that more than half of all injuries occurred when two or more people used a trampoline simultaneously.
- Learn how to properly land on the trampoline.
- Prohibit somersaults, back flips, stunts, or other acrobatics.
- Do not jump off the trampoline.
Professional Help Available
Many professionally operated gymnastic centers offer trampoline classes. This might be a good, safe, and healthy alternative to home-based use. Who knows … the cost of a few classes could prove to be less than a trip to the emergency room!