The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Trampoline Injuries Are Serious and Common: Reasons to Reconsider this Popular Summer Activity

Posted by on Thursday, April 24th, 2014

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A mother writes to Mayo Clinic experts: “My 7-year-old is begging for a backyard trampoline, but I’m worried that she could hurt herself while jumping. Am I worried for nothing?” This fear is common among all parents who have considered buying a trampoline or taking their kids to one of the popular new trampoline parks.

It turns out these fears are wholly justified. In our NY podiatry practice, we see many injuries to the foot and ankle caused by trampoline use. One study by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System found there are 98,000 trampoline-related incidents reported each year! The rate of injury is 79 injuries per 100,000 trampoline jumpers. Perhaps that’s why The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that trampolines should never be used at home or at playgrounds.

trampoline
More than one kid on a trampoline spells danger!
Image Source: Flickr user Pawel Loj

Trampolines Cause Heartache for Many Families

Local news stories of trampoline injuries are rampant. News 4 in Jacksonville, Florida, recounts how 12-year-old Sherri Zeitun broke her leg jumping on a trampoline at a park. “It happened so fast I couldn’t even stand on it,” the young girl says. Luckily, she suffered no damage to her growth plate, but her tibia did require a screw to fix the fracture.

ABC News describes how 9-year-old Oaklee Sidwell of Utah died when the trampoline she was sitting on blew over with a strong gust of wind, sending her 150 feet and causing multiple injuries. NBC News tells the story of 8-year-old Destini Prouty of Washington who bounced off a backyard trampoline onto her head and neck. “My first response was that she was going to be paralyzed, seeing how she landed,” her mother recalled. The girl suffered a concussion and strained neck, but luckily hadn’t broken any bones. Even so, Mrs. Prouty promptly got rid of the trampoline.

Twelve-year-old Clay Carlson of Morgan Hill, California, wasn’t so lucky. When he was seven, he broke his hand jumping on a friend’s trampoline for just 15 or 20 minutes. “I thought they were pretty safe,” his mother admitted. Up until that point, she had considered buying a trampoline for their yard, but now she is afraid someone will get hurt.

What Types of Injuries Do Trampolines Cause?

Fractures are the most common injury we see related to trampoline use. About 40% of all trampoline injuries are fractures to the foot, ankle, leg, wrist, and arm. The NY Times reports that sprains, strains, bruises and soft tissue injuries are also very commonplace.

The worst case scenarios involve fatalities, head injuries, cervical spine injuries, and paralysis concussions caused by kids falling off a trampoline, doing flips, or somersaulting. Head and neck injuries account for 10% of trampoline-related emergency room trips. Worse yet, a report cited by the AAP found that one in 200 trampoline injuries resulted in permanent neurological damage.

trampoline danger
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against trampoline use.
Image Source: OsbornMachler.com

Why Are Trampolines so Dangerous?

Some people may consider trampoline use okay for children for a few reasons: it gets kids out of the house, encourages them to be active, and, especially during those long days of summer, it’s a good way to ensure that they get their energy out. But after some examination, it may become clear that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Here are a few different theories about why trampolines wreak such havoc.

– Kids of different ages and sizes collide. When kids play football or soccer, they are organized into groups according to age and size. This is not typically the case with trampoline parks, says sports medicine specialist Dr. Eric Eisner. “You have a bunch of kids all different sizes,” he says, adding that these kids are often horsing around, trying to do tricks, and not “just jumping up and down.”

– Kids like horseplay on trampolines. Children can get hurt when performing gymnastic moves on a trampoline, trying to do flips, and attempting to show off.

 – The frame and springs are made of hard material. The trampoline itself may be soft, but the exterior ring contains hard materials and springs that can easily cause fractures.

– There is a false sense of security. “It’s fun and it’s something you can do in your backyard,” explains Dr. Barbara Gaines of Pittsburgh, PA. “It doesn’t have a motor attached. And all of that give parents a false sense of security, especially when you add in safety devices like nets.” There is no evidence, however, to suggest that so-called “safety features” actually make trampolines safer.

Trampoline Safety

Adult supervision is crucial when it comes to preventing trampoline injuries. Having spotters around the sides of the trampoline can help keep kids where they belong. Ideally, only one child should use a trampoline at a time. According to ABC News, 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one child is on the trampoline. When more people are jumping, they should be roughly the same size, as 50% of injuries affect kids five and under — usually smaller children. Acrobatics should not be permitted. Safety equipment like extra padding, nets, and anchors can make trampolines slightly safer. Ladders should be removed so younger kids can’t climb up unsupervised.

Have Your Child’s Trampoline Injury Treated in NY

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine treats trampoline injuries in New York City at two offices — one in Manhattan, and one in Westchester. We not only provide you with the usual casts, braces, walking boots, and physical therapy services, but we also offer late-breaking technology that professional athletes use to heal more quickly — like laser therapies, radiowaves, and platelet-rich plasma injections. Even if you are a new patient, you can book your appointment online here!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.