Trampoline jumping is a beneficial and constructive physical exercise for children, but it has a significant risk for injuries.
Now, after reviewing the evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics is discouraging recreational use of trampolines in the home.
Here’s what we know.
Trampoline injury rates have decreased.
But the potential for severe injury remains relatively high.
Enclosures and padding are not expected to prevent most injuries.
They may provide a false sense of security.
Children 5 years and younger are at increased risk of fractures and dislocations from trampoline-related injuries.
Many injuries occur even with reported adult supervision.
Multiple jumpers increase injury risk.
The smallest participants are at greatest risk.
Current trampoline equipment offers shorter warranties than in the past.
Protective equipment may require earlier replacement.
Somersaulting, flipping, and falls put jumpers at increased risk of head and cervical spine injury.
These injuries are potentially permanent, with devastating consequences.
Equipment, safety measures, and supervision within structured training programs are significantly different than those used in the recreational environment.
The bottom line?
The American Academy of Pediatrics tells us the trampoline was designed as a piece of specialized training equipment for specific sports. Pediatricians (and all healthcare professionals) should only endorse using trampolines as part of a structured training program that includes appropriate coaching, supervision, and safety measures.
In addition, attempts at new skills, particularly somersaults or flips, should only follow an appropriate skill progression and include appropriate coaching and spotting. Safety belts/harnesses is encouraged when skill development is being taught.
According to a study in Finland, trampoline injuries during the summer account for as many as 13% of children’s accidents (mostly fractures) requiring hospital care.
How dangerous is using a trampoline compared to other sports?
Here are the results of the SAFE KIDS Campaign, which compared various activities for the risk of injuries that required emergency department treatment. Among 1.3 million children ages 14 and younger, here are the numbers of children injured while participating in none contact sports.
Trampoline: Nearly 80,000 children
Bicycling: Nearly 275,000 children
Skateboarding: More than 61,000 children
In-line and roller-skating: More than 38,000 children
Snow skiing/snowboarding: More than 29,000 children
Gymnastics: Nearly 23,500 children
Sledding: More than 15,000 children
Ice-skating: Nearly 10,600 children
By comparison, here are the injuries for contact sports.
Basketball: More than 200,000 children
Football: Almost 194,000 children
Baseball and softball: Nearly 117,000 children
Baseball also has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with 3 to 4 children dying from baseball injuries each year.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.