The warmer weather is finally here, and that means plenty of chances to get outside and play! We talked a few weeks ago about playground safety, and today we want to talk specifically about every child’s favorite and every parent’s nightmare… the dreaded trampoline.
I have 2 girls of my own and we go through, the same conversation that each of you go through every day: Why can’t we get a trampoline? Why can’t I jump on it with all my friends? Why can’t I do flips?
In the office, we often get questions about trampolines from concerned and curious parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of home trampolines, or trampolines for recreational purposes. At Kids Plus, we support that recommendation and urge families to avoid the use of recreational trampolines.
In 2009, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) reported almost 98,000 injuries and 3,100 hospitalizations from recreational trampoline use. Approximately 75% of those injuries occurred when more than one person was jumping at the same time. As you might expect, the smallest children were at the greatest risk; kids under 5 years of age were the most-injured age group.
Common trampoline injuries range from muscle strains, bruises, and broken bones to concussions and even spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis. How do these injuries occur? Children get hurt by landing incorrectly on the mat, being struck by another individual, attempting (and failing) to complete stunts (especially flips or summersaults), falling off the trampoline, or landing on the springs of the trampoline. Contrary to popular belief, netting around a trampoline has NOT been found to significantly reduce injuries.
The AAP recommends not purchasing or using any size recreational trampoline for your home, or using one at other homes or on playgrounds. Trampolines should only be used as part of a supervised training program in gymnastics, diving, or other competitive sport. Most importantly, only one person should be training on the trampoline at a time, and always under direct supervision.
If you already have a trampoline at home, or your children have access to one, and you still allow its use, we urge you at least to follow afew simple rules. Your children may not be always happy about them, but they may help keep them out of the Emergency Room…
- Never allow more than 1 person on at a time.
- ALWAYS have adult supervision.
- No summersault or flips (to help avoid head and neck injuries)
- Make sure the equipment is checked routinely, and that here is adequate protective padding.
- Don’t allow your child on a trampoline without your permission, and the permission of the homeowner.
- Don’t keep a ladder at or near the base of the trampoline, to avoid allowing children access without supervision.
- Homeowners should check their homeowners policy for coverage related to injuries sustained on their trampoline.
As always, we encourage all children to get out and be active, but remember there are many safer things that they can participate in that have a much lower risk of injury.
Enjoy the summer, have FUN, and be SAFE!
Dr. Alicia Hartung, a shareholder in the practice, has been a Kids Plus Doc since 2001.