A drive through the neighborhood suggests that many people have not heard the news. Trampolines have become a familiar fixture of the suburban landscape. In 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics sounded the alarm, and an updated policy was released in May 2006. Over 80,000 trampoline related injuries were reported in 1996. Most injuries were sustained on home trampolines. Many of injuries were serious; 30% resulted in fracture, some even required surgery. Most fractures involved the arms or legs, 10% of injuries involved the head or neck. Fortunately, catastrophic injury and death are infrequent, however during 1990-1996, 18 such injuries were reported. In 1990 six trampoline-related deaths were reported.
Most trampoline accidents occur in the home. Most victims are injured when they land incorrectly while jumping or performing stunts. Others occur when victims fall to the surface below or collide with another person on the equipment. Injury may also occur after contact with the frame or springs of the trampoline. Often, the accident happens when multiple people are on the equipment, collision with one another is usually sited. Most injuries involve relatively new home trampolines of at least two feet height.
Based on their most recent data review the AAP has made the following recommendations;
- Trampolines should not be used at home, inside or outside.
- Pediatricians should advise parents to never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines.
- Trampolines should not be part of routine school physical education programs.
- The trampoline has no place in outdoor playgrounds and should never be regarded as play equipment.
For those who already have trampolines the following safety precautions are recommended:
- Safety padding of all spring and frame components
- Impact absorbing material on the surface surrounding the trampoline
- Regular inspection for rust, tears or detachments
- Safety harness and spotting belts for advanced maneuvers
- Ladders may provide unintended access to the trampoline by small children and should not be used
- Only one person should use the trampoline at a time
- Users should not attempt maneuvers beyond their capability or training
- Personnel trained in safety and competent spotters should be present whenever in use
- Use by children under six years of age should be prohibited
- The trampoline must be secured and no accessible when not in use
Dr. David Harter is a pediatric neurosurgeon at NYU Medical Center.
Reference: Pediatrics, Volume 103, No. 5, May 1999, pp. 1053-1056