I’ve always liked trampolines. I had a lot of fun with them when I was a teenager. I even took a college PE class that was just trampoline-jumping. What a strange class, right? The teacher was a former Baylor cheerleader (male, darn it). When we weren’t doing flips and things, we all stood around the trampoline to catch the guys who messed up and came flying toward the hardwood floor of the gym. Of course when a big guy came hurtling toward us, we sometimes just let him hit the ground rather than risk injury by trying to catch him. I still feel bad about that…
Anyway, I know from experience that trampolines can be both fun and dangerous. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the danger outweighs the fun for kids. The pediatricians recommend against letting children use trampolines, even if the trampolines have safety netting and padding. The study was detailed in a Reuters article. Here are excerpts:
Kids should stay off trampolines at home and at the playground, U.S. pediatricians urged, saying emergency departments across the country see nearly 100,000 injuries from the bouncy mats each year. The new statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updates recommendations from 1999, which caused manufacturers to add safety features to the products in an attempt to mitigate the risks. However, these measures may “provide a false sense of security,” according to the group.
“As best we can tell, the addition of safety nets and padding has actually not changed the injuries we have seen,” said Dr. Susannah Briskin, a sports medicine specialist who helped draft the new statement.
It’s estimated that the number of trampoline injuries nationwide has been dropping – from 111,851 cases treated at ERs in 2004, to 97,908 in 2009. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the devices have become any less dangerous, Briskin told Reuters Health. “Even though there has been a decrease in injuries,” she said, “I caution people against taking that too literally because the number of trampolines has also decreased.”
Mark Publicover, founder and president of JumpSport Inc, a trampoline manufacturer in San Jose, California, scoffed at the AAP’s recommendations.
He said he invented a safety net that encircles the trampoline and cuts the number of injuries by half. And, he added, if parents ban trampolines, their children might start climbing trees, using swings or skateboards, for instance.
“If you look at all those activities, a safety-enclosed trampoline is safer by hours of use,” Publicover told Reuters Health. “When they say, ‘Don’t use trampolines with a safety enclosure,’ they are going to increase the number of injuries.”
According to the new statement, published in the journal Pediatrics, three-quarters of injuries happen when more than one person are jumping at the same time, often when a small kid is bouncing with a heavier playmate. The impact of the bigger kid will thrust the smaller one high into the air, upping the chances of a rough landing, particularly if the kid comes down at an awkward point.
“Most of the injuries actually occur on the mat itself,” said Briskin, adding that she sees a lot of ankles sprains and fractures in her clinic, especially the young kids.
“Not everything has complete recovery,” said Briskin. “Head and neck injuries make up 10 to 15 percent of all injuries and those are the injuries that carry the greatest risk of leading to catastrophic damage.”
About one in 200 trampoline injuries lead to permanent neurologic damage, according to the AAP, and such accidents are often caused by botched somersaults or flips.
For parents who are unwilling to stop their kids from using trampolines, the AAP offers a number of tips to make the activity safer.
Those steps include checking that your insurance policy covers trampoline-related claims; using the mat one at a time, having effective padding around springs and frame, placing the trampoline on level ground, avoiding somersaults and flips and actively supervising kids.
The new statement is in line with advice from other medical societies, which also discourage recreational use of trampolines.
SOURCE: bit.ly/PQQMAp Pediatrics.