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EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS: Pearls from a Practicing Pediatrician - “Trampolines and Children – About as Safe as Backyard Swimming Pools”

Posted: Dec 14, 2020
Comments: 0
Author: UCA Admin

Content provided by Thomas W. Tryon, MD, MBA, FAAP; UCA Pediatric Section Chair

I have always been aware of the potential dangers of children playing on a trampoline. Recently, I was reminded again of the dangers when I cared for a young child who had an older sibling land on her while playing on a family trampoline The result was a both bone fracture in her lower leg that needed orthopedic consultation and care. In my career in emergency medicine and urgent care, I have seen significant injuries from trampolines; including broken bones, neck injuries, head injuries and even a liver laceration. In my experience, almost all of those injuries happened when more than one child was on the trampoline and commonly when a larger child or adult landed on the smaller child.

As the father of four now grown children, I had the conflict with my own children wanting to have a trampoline in our back yard as they were growing up while, at the same time, seeing significant injuries at work from back yard trampolines. In my family, I was the “bad guy” and said no; much to the chagrin especially of one of my sons who was a competitive cheerleader and was on a Level 3 Extreme Co-ed cheer team. He wanted to use the trampoline to practice his acrobatic cheer routines.

I am not alone in my opinion. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been warning about the dangers of recreational trampoline use since their initial policy statement on this danger to children that was published in 1977. More recently, according to the AAP News release in September 2019: “Parents are well aware of other backyard dangers such as swimming pools and take significant precautions to protect their children. However, they still unwittingly allow their children to play on trampolines.

The rates of trampoline injuries are similar to those in swimming pools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Between 2002 and 2011, there were over 1 million emergency department (ED) visits for trampoline injuries with the vast majority in patients younger than 17 years (Loder RT, et al. J Pediatr Orthop. 2014;34:683-690). One-third of these injuries resulted in broken bones, and one in 200 led to permanent neurologic damage.”1

What do we know about injuries to children while playing on a trampoline? Here are some key points:

  • 75% of all injuries occur when more than one child in on the trampoline at a time
  • Up to 1/3 of injuries occur when the child falls off of the trampoline
  • Many of the injuries occur even while the child is under adult supervision
  • Current data on netting and other safety equipment indicates there has been no reduction in injury rates.
  • Failed attempts at somersaults and flips frequently causes neck injuries. In children, because their neck bones have not completely fused, it is the spinal cord that takes the brunt of a neck injury and can lead to devastating or catastrophic neurological injury.

The bottom line is the AAP recommends against recreational trampoline use because of the dangers of injuries to children. They recommend trampolines only be used in training facilities under close supervision by adult coaches or trainers. For parents who want to continue allowing their children to use a trampoline, the AAP recommends:

  • Always ensure there is adult supervision when children are using the trampoline
  • Always ensure only one child is on the trampoline at a time
  • Recommend against your child performing or attempting risky acrobatic moves that increase their risk for injury including their risk for falling off of the trampoline.
  • Check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to verify that the policy covers trampoline injuries or related claims
  • Be aware that rules and regulations for trampoline parks may not be consistent with the AAP guidelines.

More information is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics parenting website Healthy Children from this specific article: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/AAP-Advises-Against-Recreational-Trampoline-Use.aspx. Best wishes for a safe and healthy Fall and Winter, 2020.

1 https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/09/10/focus091019


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