For many, trampolines are a childhood staple, giving everyone the ability to reach new heights – and helping burn off some excess energy. While any physical activity comes with its own risks, trampolines and the newly-popularized trampoline jump-parks pose a particularly high risk for injury that could affect a child long-term.
Unique Risks of Trampolines and Jump Parks
A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that in 2014, over 100,000 emergency room visits were related to a trampoline injury. Based on 439 injuries reported over two years, 66% were from at-home trampolines, but the injuries from jump parks were much more serious, most commonly dislocations and fractures. In fact, 59% of the fractures that occurred were at a jump park.
There are many factors that increase the risk for serious injury at jump parks, such as the equipment having a stronger bounce than those found in backyards; there are various obstacles within the jump area that are intended to create more excitement, but increase the chances of incorrect landings; and many individuals are usually bouncing at one time, increasing the risk for collisions.
While the injury risk is present for anyone at any age, it is particularly dangerous for children under the age of 6 to jump on trampolines. Young children have much softer, compressible bones, meaning they can break relatively easily. Even a toddler simply jumping a few inches up and down on one of the stronger jump-park trampolines can result in a serious break. In the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2014 study, a total of 24,318 children ages 2-5 were sent to the ER with serious trampoline injuries, with 42% of those being broken bones.
Unfortunately, for the younger jumpers, a break can mean more than a cast to heal, as it can potentially break a growth plate, hindering the bone’s ability to grow correctly, or even at all, as the child ages. Multiple surgeries over several years could be required, affecting the child’s life for much of their formative years.
Plenty of Other Options for Physical Activity
It is understandable that many parents and caregivers are drawn to jump parks and at-home trampolines to help kids get some exercise, but there are many other great options for physical fitness that don’t carry such heavy risks.
Encourage kids to go outside and play catch with a friend, ride a bike around the neighborhood or take a family ride on the trails (with a helmet!), or play a game of kickball with friends. For smaller children and toddlers, use your creativity to encourage physical activity. Let them run in the grass and chase bubbles, create a fun obstacle course out of everyday objects, play in a sandbox or water table, color with sidewalk chalk, pedal around the driveway on a tricycle or in a push-car, and more.
How to Use a Trampoline Safely
If you choose to allow your child to use a trampoline, take all safety precautions to help avoid injury. Children under the age of 6 should be prohibited from using the trampoline completely. When a child is jumping, there should always be an adult present to actively supervise and only one jumper should be allowed at a time. Do not allow any somersaults or dangerous jumps to be performed. Always ensure the equipment has adequate padding that is appropriately placed and in good condition. Everything should be checked often and at the first sign of any damage to any piece, it should be repaired immediately. For at-home trampolines, be sure to verify your homeowner’s policy covers trampoline-related injuries as they may not be included in your basic policy.
Should you have any concerns about your child’s use of a trampoline either at home or in a jump park, contact us today.