I wanted nothing more than a trampoline (and a pony) growing up. But my mom said they were dangerous and so we never got one. (I thought she was just making excuses for being cheap; little did I know she was actually right). Now that I’m an adult and can get one, I have had an internal debate whether or not I should. The child in me says, yes. The pediatrician says, no. There is no denying it. Trampolines are fun. Trampolines are good exercise. Trampolines are dangerous.
As a pediatrician, I feel obligated to accurately represent the American Academy of Pediatrics stance AGAINST home trampoline use. The AAP has to represent the best interest of children and a device that results in injuries to children has to be on the “no” list.
The injuries from trampolines:
- Most injuries (about 75% of all injuries) happen when more than one jumper is on the trampoline at a time.
- Most cervical spine (neck) injuries happen from falling off the trampoline or failed attempts at somersaults or flips. These account for the permanent/serious injuries.
- Falls from the trampoline account for 27-39% of injuries.
- Contact with springs and frames account for 20% of injuries.
- Most injuries are sprains (ankle is most common), strains, and bruises. Most of the fractures happen in the younger kids (younger than 5 years old).
- Smaller children are more likely (14 times more so) to get injured than bigger children.
- Rare, but freaky accidents like vertebral artery dissection (from neck injury) or sternal fractures can also happen.
How to make it safer (if you’re going to anyhow):
- Make rules about no somersaults or flips.
- Make sure padding extends over the frame and springs.
- Don’t have a ladder up to your trampoline (it will prevent children who are too young from inadvertently getting onto the trampoline).
- Limit multiple jumpers.
- Have adult supervision (Although, interestingly a third to half of injuries happen despite adult supervision. I suppose if the child is going to fall off the trampoline, you standing there isn’t going to prevent that from happening. The value of the adult is preventing the risky behavior that leads to the injury.)
- Make the trampoline ground level if at all possible with a safe, clearing around it.
What about nets?
Surprisingly, the literature doesn’t support that netting decreases injury numbers. This is because netting is often installed on the outside of the frame or is not properly maintained. Additionally, kids like to hang on or climb netting which poses a new risk.
One last tip, you may want to make sure your homeowners insurance covers trampoline-related claims.
My secret shame
So are you still waiting to hear the answer? Does Dr. Wonnacott have a trampoline? After years of saying “no,” I caved. The child in me won, and I got my kids a trampoline this year. (I feel like I’m admitting a dark secret). It’s a new version that has a vented pad/spring cover built in. I also, put the trampoline in the ground. There are firm rules about no flips, somersaults, or jumping and landing on your back. (In case you missed it, this is my safety justification). The truth is, my kids have spent a thousand hours on it already and love it. So there it is, the pot calling the kettle black. My secret shame.