Balancing the fun & dangers of trampolines
3/28/2019 by Dr. Stephanie Ziebarth
Parents are often faced with balancing fun and safety for their children. Trampolines are a perfect example of this dilemma. When it comes to trampoline use, are we overreacting or is there significant risk of injury?
Since 1977, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been making safety recommendations for trampolines. We know from current evidence that trampolines are associated with a variety of injuries in children. Unfortunately, the risk is great enough that the AAP routinely discourages playing on trampolines.
Trampoline injuries can range from minor, such as sprains or bruises, to more severe, including broken bones, concussions, and even permanent injuries from head, neck or spinal trauma. In 2009, there were almost 98,000 trampoline-related injuries, resulting in 3,100 kids in the hospital.
So what are the dangers and types of injuries that come from playing on trampolines?
- Multiple people jumping at the same time accounts for approximately 75% of injuries.
- Children age five or younger have up to 14 times the chance of getting hurt, and tend to have more broken bones and dislocations.
- Falls account for about one-third of injuries. Arms are most commonly injured after a fall, and about 60% of these are fractures.
- Head and neck injuries account for up to 17% of injuries. The most severe are caused by doing a somersault or the child falling from the trampoline and landing on their head or neck.
Manufacturers have been making greater efforts to improve trampoline construction and safety, including adding netting and padding around trampolines. Surprisingly, current evidence doesn't show that having more trampolines with enclosures has led to a significant decrease in injuries, either. The trampoline mat itself is still unfortunately the culprit for a variety of injuries.
Jumping on a trampoline is still a lot of fun, and so it's up to every parent to decide what amount of risk they're able to tolerate when balancing between fun and safety. The good news is that risk of injury can be reduced by following a few trampoline safety rules:
- Only one jumper at a time on the trampoline
- No somersaults allowed
- Adult supervision at all times
- Children younger than six aren't allowed to jump on the trampoline
- Adequate protective padding and a netted enclosure
- Set up on level ground away from trees, patios, yard furniture, play equipment, etc.
Also, be sure to check your homeowner's policy to see if it requires additional coverage for trampoline-related injuries if you have one on your property.
Dr. Stephanie Ziebarth is a general pediatrician with Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) and practices in the Baldwin Clinic. She completed her MD at the University of Wisconsin and pediatric residency both at the University of New Mexico and Mayo Clinic.