Children love to jump on them, but trampolines also carry inherent risks. If your child is invited to a trampoline party, these tips from a pediatrician can help your family avoid serious injuries
While a trampoline provides great fun and exercise, trampoline jumping poses an extremely high risk of injury for children. This risk is so high, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually cautions against using trampolines at home. But as trampoline parks continue to surge in popularity, parents need to be aware of the dangers and take the necessary precautions to keep their kids safe.
Research published in the journal Pediatrics has linked the increasing number of trampoline parks to a spike in injuries to children. Almost a quarter million trampoline injuries are treated annually in the United States, three-fourths of them occurring in children 14 or younger. This figure represents a 12-fold increase between 2010 and 2014, and the number of cases reported continues to spiral upward.
Of these trampoline injuries, 40 percent are to legs and feet, followed by arms or hands (29 percent), head, face or neck (20 percent) and shoulder or trunk (10 percent). Most of these injuries are the result of jumpers colliding, falling off the trampoline or doing “stunts.” How and why did these occurrences get so out of control? And what are the first steps parents need to take to keep their child from becoming a statistic?
"First of all, parents need to learn what the actual risks are at these trampoline parks," says Katherine Williamson, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at Mission Hospital. There’s very little in terms of standard practices applied across how parks are operated, and the rules vary greatly. For example, some enforce a limit on the number of jumpers, and others don’t. Some parks forbid stunts like flipping or somersaults, but others let people try just about anything.
And while parks usually do offer safety features like padded walls, and provide supervision, this can actually lead to a false sense of security to parents who assume everything is fine. “It’s really up to the parents to do due diligence in knowing in advance what to do and what to avoid,” added Dr. Williamson. “And there are several easy measures you can take that will keep your children reasonably safe without removing the fun.”
If your child is invited to a trampoline park, follow these safety guidelines.
- Children age 5 and under should not be permitted on a trampoline.
- Supervise children at all times, and have adult spotters around the edge of the trampoline.
- Don’t let your children jump if the trampoline seems to be crowded – one at a time is best.
- Provide the same type of protective gear used when roller blading or biking – e.g., elbow, wrist, and knee pads, and yes, even helmets.
- Don’t allow children to do flips or other high-risk "tricks."
- Discourage kids from trying moves that are beyond their skill level. This also means not letting them jump too high; they may lose control and jump off the trampoline.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.