Children Risk Serious Injury from Recreational Trampoline Use, Pediatricians Say

Recreational trampolines, particularly the kind found in backyards, pose a serious risk of injury to children, according to a paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this month. The AAP has long advocated against the recreational use of trampolines, citing the high risk of fractures, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Other medical associations and the federal government have also noted the hazards of trampolines.

Trampoline use in the home environment remains a popular activity for children and teenagers, despite repeated warnings from the AAP and other groups. The Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, part of the AAP, reported on the risks of trampoline use in the October issue of the AAP’s official journal, Pediatrics. It estimates that around 100,000 trampoline-related injuries occur every year, and that in every year since 2005, they have been responsible for three to four thousand hospitalizations and deaths. This actually represents a decrease in the annual injury rate, which reportedly peaked at the same time as trampoline sales in 2004. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has also noted a direct correlation between the popularity of recreational trampolines and injury rates.

The original purpose of the modern trampoline was athletic training, not recreation, according to the patent obtained in 1945 by competitive gymnast George Nissen. His patent was for a “tumbling device” he intended to use to train gymnasts and acrobats. It later found a use in military aviation training. Recreational trampolines appeared once manufacturers were able to create frames that consumers could assemble at home. The AAP, the AAOS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) all warn of the dangers inherent in trampoline use. Manufacturers have added safety features in recent years, including padding for trampoline frames and nets to prevent users from falling off the sides, but the AAP reports that these measures have not shown any significant impact on the injury rate.

Trampoline users risk injuries from three main types of accidents, according to the AAP’s paper: collisions with other trampoline users, falls from the trampoline to the ground, and injuries caused by the trampoline springs or frame. Injuries to the lower extremities, particularly the ankles, are the most common trampoline-related injury, accounting for thirty-four to fifty percent of all injuries. Another twenty-four to thirty-six percent of injuries affect the upper extremities. The AAP identified several injuries it says are unique to trampoline use, including proximal tibial fractures in children age six and under, sternal fractures in 10- to 11-year-old children, and dissection of the vertebral artery after a neck injury. This last injury can cause long-term and debilitating damage. Injuries to the head and neck are less common than injuries to the extremities, but they are among the most harmful. While the AAP estimates that up to seventeen percent of all trampoline-related injuries affect the head or neck, it estimates that 0.5% of all injuries cause long-term or permanent brain damage.

The personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people in Maryland who have been injured due to the negligence or illegal acts of others. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.

Web Resources:

Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness; Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence (PDF file); Pediatrics; originally published online September 24, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2082
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; Trampoline Safety (PDF file); Publication 085, R042012

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