Trampoline Truths (Pedcast)

Welcome to another edition of DocSmo.com, where we discuss child health topics ranging from the crib to the country club, from diapers to the diploma, from the bassinette to the boardroom.  Well, you get the idea.   I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen.  Hopefully, in today’s podcast, I can give you some useful information and get you to smile at the same time.  Today we are going to discuss the AAP’s recently published  statement about the dangers of trampolines … as any of my patients will tell you, this is one of my hot buttons.  I will be right up front: I don’t like trampolines as a toy for children because I see so many injuries on them….broken arms and legs, sprained ankles and necks, and even permanent neurologic injuries. Here is a DocSmo pearl for you- “ “There is no toy that is so much fun that it is worth the risk of your child sustaining a lifelong injury… none”  I think after you learn a few facts about trampolines in today’s podcast, you will see what I am talking about.

Here is a summary of what health experts say about trampolines from the AAP:

Jumping on a trampoline is dangerous, plain and simple.  Approximately 83,000 children a year in the US are injured jumping on trampolines.  You heard me, 83,000. When children jump, especially when multiple children play on the same trampoline, they are at risk of injuring their entire body.  Lower extremity injuries, mostly involving the ankle, account for about 50% of trampoline injuries.  Upper extremity injuries (most commonly bone fractures) account for about 35% of trampoline injuries, and usually occur when a child falls entirely off of the trampoline.  Head and/or neck injuries, the most frightening of them all, account for the final 15% of trampoline injuries, with 0.5% of trampoline injuries resulting in permanent neurologic damage.  (Although 0.5% may seem like a minuscule percentage, if your child is unlucky enough to be a part of that 0.5%, your family will be left 100% affected)

The three biggest causes of trampoline-related injuries are multiple children jumping at once, falling off of the trampoline, and collision with the trampoline frame and/or springs.  Because children younger than 6 years old typically have less developed motor skills and weigh less than the older children jumping with them, they are at greater risk of dislocating and/or breaking their bones.  Somersaulting and flipping increases the risk of head, neck, and spine injury, which can result in devastating and permanent consequences.

So here is DocSmo’s advice to parents about trampolines.  If you don’t have one, don’t get it.

If you do have a trampoline as I am sure many of your do, here are some important things you can do to minimize problems:

 Trampoline rules:

  1. The trampoline should be placed on a level surface (as close to the ground as possible) and in a hazard-free area
  2. Padding on the trampoline should cover both the frame and the springs and should be frequently inspected to make sure it is in good condition
  3. Children must be 6 years or older to use the trampoline
  4. Only one child is allowed on the trampoline at a time—not only is this the safest option, but it also provides your children with an opportunity to practice the art of sharing and turn-taking
  5. Somersaults and flips are not permitted under any circumstances
  6. 6.     Active supervision by adults willing and able to enforce the rules should occur at all times.    Remember, (Doc Smo pearl) “Adult Supervision” requires that adults actually supervise!!!!

Well, I hope that was helpful. Portable, practical, pediatrics is our goal with every post.  If you have a story about trampolines that you want to tell, or any comments you think our listeners would like to hear, take a moment to send a comment into my website, www.docsmo.com.  or post a comment on  iTunes.  Your feedback is invaluable.

This is Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, hoping your child’s backyard leaping doesn’t end in everyone weeping.  Until next time!

DocSmo.com now has interns helping with research and writing and I want to recognize Abbie Doelger for her contribution to this podcast today. She is a premed senior graduating from Davidson College. Thank you Abbie. Good job.

3 Comments

  1. Brad Lucas says:

    Hi Dr. Smolen. I listened to your trampoline Pedcast and know you are strongly opposed to them. Would strict rules and a trampoline such as the attached change your opinion — even a little? Thanks…Brad Lucas (Lydia’s dad)

    • DocSmo says:

      Dear Mr. Lucas, It’s good to hear from you. Yes, you are right, I am not a big fan of trampolines because they are dangerous. I don’t like see children getting hurt. That being said, the trampoline you reference does seem safer than the traditional variety. It doesn’t seem that a child could fall off or get injured by hitting the springs. They could still however do flips and come down on their neck or jump with other children and have a collision with another child that could cause significant injury. Then there is the whole issue of adult supervision or lack of supervision. Trampolines are fun because they magnify the effect of gravity which is precisely the reason they are dangerous. The trampoline that you reference does seem safer than many but in my opinion, is still not a good toy. Tag anyone?

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