Parents should be discouraged from letting kids bounce on trampolines at home, according to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Using a trampoline is inherently dangerous, the authors of the report said, and safety features like enclosed netting and padding are insufficient to reduce the risk of injury. Many children still get hurt on trampolines, even under the supervision of a parent or adult.
“Pediatricians need to actively discourage recreational trampoline use,” said statement co-author Dr. Michele LaBotz, in the updated policy. “Families need to know that many injuries occur on the mat itself, and current data do not appear to demonstrate that netting or padding significantly decrease the risk of injury.”
The majority of trampoline injuries — 75% — occur when more than one person is jumping on the trampoline at a time. Usually the youngest and smallest jumpers are at the highest risk for getting hurt; fractures and dislocations account for 48% of injuries in kids under 5. Overall, fractures and sprains make up the bulk of the harms in any age group, while falls from the apparatus, which can be catastrophic, cause 27% to 39% of all injuries. The statement notes that failed attempts at somersaults and flips frequently cause cervical spine injuries, resulting in permanent and devastating consequences.
The policy statement notes that trampoline injuries have been on the decline since 2004, but so have trampoline sales. The risk of injury from using the device still remains high: in 2009, there were 98,000 total trampoline-related injuries in the U.S., with 3,100 resulting in hospital visits. In 2004, there were 112,000 injuries and 3,300 hospitalizations.
“Unfortunately, the very forces that make trampoline use fun for many children also lead to unique injury mechanisms and patterns of injury,” the authors write. They argue that trampolines should be reserved as training equipment for specific sports like gymnastics, under the proper supervision of a coach. There’s insufficient data on the safety of the growing number of indoor commercial trampoline parks, the authors said, suggesting these facilities be strongly regulated.
Families who have a trampoline at home should verify that their insurance covers trampoline injury-related claims, the report advises.
Trampoline makers counter that safety precautions like netting enclosures have indeed reduced the risk of injury from trampolines and that the AAP’s report doesn’t acknowledge the health and fitness benefits of trampoline use. “It’s one of the few forms of exercise kids want to do,” Arch Adams, president of Fun Spot Trampolines, in Hartwell, Ga., told USA Today.