My neighbors recently purchased a trampoline for their children. Soon after they assembled the trampoline, my kids asked if they could jump. They were very surprised with my response. Although many parents may see the trampoline as a fun and engaging way for their children to exercise, the potential for serious and catastrophic injury should make you think twice about this activity.
My neighbors were trying to convince me that the trampoline was a safe activity, especially with the protective netting. While the netting does reduce the chance of being thrown off the trampoline, it doesn’t make it safe. The truth is, most injuries occur due to collisions with other children, landing improperly, or landing on the side rail. You’ve heard the expression, “what goes up, must come down,” and due to the laws of physics, the higher a child jumps, the harder the impact.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that 98,000 trampoline-related injuries occurred in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, resulting in 3,100 hospitalizations. About 75% of trampoline injuries occur when multiple people are jumping, with children age five and under at greater risk for significant injury. That risk increases when you have a small child jumping with older children. Fractures and dislocations make up 48% of injuries. Common injuries in all age groups include sprains, strains, and contusions. However, severe, life-altering injuries such as spinal cord and neurological damage can occur.
Many people just don’t recognize the risks, or even the liability, associated with having a recreational trampoline. Most home insurance policies have trampoline exclusions, charge a higher premium, or mandate that they are within enclosed areas with restricted access. And let me be clear: I’m referring to backyard trampolines; not those in gymnastic centers under direct supervision and coaching or the small indoor models used for core-toning.
Here are some safety measures to lower the chance of injury while jumping on recreational trampolines:
- Children under 6 years of age should not be allowed to jump.
- Only allow one jumper at a time.
- Allow no somersaults or tricks.
- Jumping should always occur under direct supervision of a competent adult who is willing to enforce and moderate the trampoline rules.
- Do not be lulled into a false sense of security just because a trampoline has safety nets or other protective equipment.
As you can guess, my answer was a firm “NO” to my children. As parents, we have to make some unpopular choices. But providing a safe, loving environment where our children can grow into healthy adults is our most important role.
Do you have a trampoline? What’s been your experience?
For more on this topic, see this article.