Words no parent likes to hear from a child. But when my 11-year-old complained of neck pain this morning, I wasn’t surprised since he had been jumping on a trampoline at a birthday party the day before. I had to explain to him again why I dislike trampolines and their risks. I’m used to him viewing me as a “buzz kill,” and it’s true: I can take the fun out of a lot of things in his world.
However, I do understand the attraction of trampolines and in fact had great fun on them when I was a child. It’s just that years in pediatrics have proven that, in this area, the risks really can outweigh the fun.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), over 100, 000 emergency-room visits per year are associated with injuries suffered while the persons were using trampolines. Nearly half of these visits are due to broken bones.
Younger children (6 years and younger) are apparently at greatest risk for injury.
If more than one child is jumping on a trampoline at the same time, the risk for injury increases significantly.
Safety nets around trampolines may be giving parents a false sense of security. The nets have reduced the number of falls from trampolines but they have not decreased the number of injuries associated with trampoline use—in other words, most trampoline injuries take place while the person is on the trampoline. Many kids are injured while adults are “supervising.” Attempts at flips and somersaults on the trampoline can result in injuries (some serious with the risk of permanent damage) to the cervical spine (neck).
What to do? Well, the AAP comes right out and says, essentially, don’t get a trampoline or allow your children to use them other places. Realistic? I’ll admit that’s a tough assignment for a parent. We’ve had a surge of indoor trampoline parks springing up in our area and many birthday parties are held at these places. And, as was the case yesterday, I didn’t know that the house my son was visiting had a trampoline.
Here’s what I suggest:
Be aware of how dangerous trampolines can be and talk to your child so they understand that trampolines, although fun, have hazards.
Limit the number of children on the trampoline. Ideally, only one child at a time should jump, and probably never more than two at a time.
Remember that "bounce houses" (those inflatable bouncing structures that can be rented for parties) carry the same injury risks as trampolines—so it’s critical to limit the number of children allowed inside at any one time.
Some sports programs use trampolines as part of their training. Make sure coaches are supervising and adhering to AAP guidelines for safety.
Don’t buy a trampoline for your family. Why take the risk?