Trampolines are fun. I loved them as a kid, and even an adult, I just want to get on one and jump. But as a pediatrician, I recognize very well that they are simply unsafe.
We recently heard about the 3-year-old who is in a body cast after he broke his thigh bone while jumping at a trampoline park. Unfortunately breaking bones on a trampoline is not uncommon. I’ve seen broken arms, fingers, ankles and even head injuries.
When 2 or more kids are on the trampoline, it changes its elasticity or “stretchiness.” If a child is landing, and the other one is in the air, the child that is airborne will not land on bouncy material anymore. The trampoline is stretched at that point, essentially creating a solid surface. Landing on a hard surface can cause broken bones. Kids’ bones break more easily than adults because they are more porous and have more vulnerable areas because they are growing.
As trampoline parks have gotten more popular, more injuries are happening. A study last year showed that injuries had literally multiplied from trampoline parks from 580 a year in 2010 to 7,000 in the year 2014. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 295,000 trampoline-related injuries in 2015. Of the injured, more than 90% were between the ages of 5 and 14.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a strict stand on trampolines: They say children should not be allowed on them. The American Association of Orthopedics agrees; they suggest that children under 6 should not be allowed on trampolines. Both organizations suggest that if kids do go on trampolines, they should use protective gear and not have more than one child on the trampoline at a time.
As a pediatrician and mom, I practice what I preach — my kids are rarely allowed to go on trampolines anymore. If you choose to allow your child to do this, follow these tips:
- Only one child at a time on the trampoline
- Use side nets to help prevent falls
- No somersaults
- Always have adult supervision
It’s not worth wearing a cast all summer or worse, having a head or spinal injury. Kids should have fun, but safety first.