Trampolines and bounce houses, while enticing sources of fun and physical activity, present a significant risk of injury, particularly for children.
Trampoline-related injuries have been a concern for years, especially among children. Between 2009 and 2018, a national database was examined to determine the frequency of trampoline injuries. As reported in a 2022 Pediatric Emergency Care article, there were more than 800,000 children who sustained injuries during this period, most occurring at children’s homes. Fractures occurred in 34% of the injuries and strains/sprains occurred in 33% of cases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons have both expressed caution against recreational trampoline use due to the risk of serious injuries. In fact, they advise not to buy a mini- or full-sized trampoline for home use, and they should not be used in routine gym classes or on playgrounds. Only consider use as described in the list below.
"Any home use of trampolines is considered dangerous and is strongly discouraged," said Terri Cappello, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Children's Chicago. "Many parents are not aware of the risks of backyard trampoline use, and might not be aware of safety measures such as nets and only allowing one person on the trampoline at a time. But even with these measures, significant injury can occur."
Bounce houses pose similar risks for injuries. According to a 2012 study by the AAP, 30 children are treated for inflatable bounce-house-related injuries every day. These injuries include bruises, muscle strains, broken bones, and injuries to the head and neck, like concussions.
Cappello shares that not a single summer has passed in her career where she did not have to treat a broken bone due to a bounce house injury.
While Shriners Children's is equipped to treat these types of injuries, we want to share tips to prevent injuries related to trampolines and bounce houses:
- It is recommended that parents never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use a home trampoline, of any kind, because of the risk of serious injury even when supervised.
- Only use when adult supervision is provided in training for gymnastics, diving or other competitive sports.
- Establish and enforce strict rules for usage, such as no somersaults or flips without proper training and supervision.
- Allow only one person to jump on a trampoline at a time to reduce collision risks.
- Children with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, should consult a physician before using a trampoline.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines regarding age and weight limits. Avoid allowing children under 6 years old to use trampolines, as they are more susceptible to injuries. When using bounce houses, group jumpers together based on age and size.
- Place trampolines or bounce houses on a level surface away from structures, trees and other hazards.
- Use safety padding to cover the springs, hooks, and frame to prevent injury from contact.
- Make sure that bounce houses and trampolines are properly anchored to the ground to prevent tipping over.
- Regularly inspect for wear, tear and damage. Damaged parts should be replaced or repaired by a professional, immediately.
- A safety enclosure (net) should be installed around trampolines to prevent children from falling off. Check the enclosure's integrity regularly and repair any holes or tears.
- Wear appropriate clothing that allows for free movement and does not pose a risk of entanglement. Jump barefoot or wear non-slip socks to avoid slipping. Remove any jewelry, eyeglasses or sharp objects that could cause injury.
- Avoid use during adverse weather conditions such as rain, wind or storms. Wet surfaces can make the surface slippery and increase the risk of injury.
- Instruct children to enter and exit the bounce house or trampoline safely, using designated entry and exit points.
Remember that even with these safety practices in place, trampolines and bounce houses still pose risks, and it's important to exercise caution and prioritize safety at all times. Always refer to reputable medical sources and manufacturer guidelines for the most up-to-date safety recommendations.
Sources: aap.org, healthychildren.org, aaos.org
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