Risky Bouncing Business
“Mom, can we get a trampoline? Pleeease?”
Your children won’t like it, but experts say the answer to your little ones’ entreaty should be, “No.”
A 2014 Indiana University (IU) study found that trampoline injuries sent more than 1 million individuals to emergency departments (EDs) throughout the country from 2002 to 2011. More than 288,000 of those patients had broken bones, and most of those individuals were children. In 2012 alone, U.S. EDs treated an estimated 94,900 trampoline-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Ninety-five percent of the fractures sustained by individuals in the IU researchers’ investigation occurred due to trampoline use at home.
“Trampoline injuries constitute a small percentage of our ED visits, but these injuries can be significant,” says Hoyt Frenzel, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., medical director of emergency services and emergency medicine physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “We tend to see trampoline accidents occur most often with adolescents, who are more aggressive in terms of trying to bounce high and perform acrobatic maneuvers.”
Dr. Frenzel sees a variety of bouncing-related injuries in the Texas Health Arlington Memorial ED each year, particularly in summer; these include cuts to the legs from falling between trampoline springs, broken wrists or ankles from being ejected onto the ground, and even concussions and skull fractures from mid-air collisions and landings gone awry.
Think Before You Leap
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advise against using trampolines at home. If you have a trampoline or decide to purchase one, these tips can decrease your children’s risk of injury:
- Look for or install safety features. Trampolines should have pads covering the metal springs and frame, as well as an encircling safety net to help prevent users from being bounced off.
- Pay attention to placement. Where you set up a trampoline affects safety. “Put the trampoline in an open, grassy area,” Dr. Frenzel says. “Bouncing off onto rocks, concrete or asphalt can cause serious, even life-threatening, injuries.”
- Set and enforce usage rules. These should include banning flips and somersaults, limiting jumpers to one turn on the trampoline at a time, and prohibiting children younger than 6 years old — the group most vulnerable to injury — from trampolining.
Most importantly, make supervision your No. 1 priority — your children and their friends should never jump unless you’re outside watching them.
If an acute injury interrupts your children’s fun this summer, you can count on Texas Health to provide the swift, high-quality care they need to get better. To find a Texas Health emergency department nearest you, visit TexasHealth.org/Locations.
Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.