Trampoline injuries result in nearly 100,000 emergency room visits each year, more than 90 percent of which occur in kids under 16. Broken bones, spinal injuries and fractured skulls are just a few of the complications children have experienced from jumping on trampolines.
While injuries from kids bouncing in their backyards has always been a risk, it's now been joined by injuries from apparatus at trampoline parks. U.S. emergency room visits due to trampoline park injuries increased from 581 in 2010 to a whopping 6,932 in 2014 while visits from home trampoline use remained the same. That's because of the growing popularity of trampolines parks. There was just one in the U.S. in 2004, and by the end of 2014, there were 345, with that number expected to grow.
Although some trampolines in parks have safety nets and other features to prevent harmful accidents, they also boast of connected, wall-to-wall and angled trampolines on which many kids can jump at once, upping the risk factors. While tumbling off a trampoline is the most likely cause of injury at home, most incidents at parks occur on the trampoline since it's built into the floor.
Researchers in Australia conducted a study to identify the causes and types and to encourage an update of injury prevention standards. Over six months, the researchers studied 40 patients age 16 or younger who went to Sydney Children's Hospital after getting hurt at a nearby trampoline center. They found that most of the patients had soft-tissue injuries or sprains (22 kids) or fractured bones (15 kids), although one did have a concussion.
And while two-thirds of the injuries occurred when a child was jumping alone, mostly from landing improperly, seven occurred when a smaller kid was projected off a trampoline because of a larger kid's bounce. The trampolines themselves were even a hazard, despite safety measures: Four of the children were injured after getting their feet caught in the protective padding.
The study authors recognize the limits of the study, which had a small sample size and a potential bias because people who go to the hospital are more likely to have severe injuries. But 23 of the injuries in this study were caused by simple jumping without flips, and five of the 40 patients had injuries that required operation. The researchers suggest kids avoid bouncing together, but they say better safety regulations, like improvements in protective padding, are also necessary to prevent expensive trips to the ER.
The researchers call trampoline park injuries an "emerging public health concern," especially since trampoline injuries at parks tend to be more serious than ones from home trampolines. (Another study showed 9 percent of trampoline park injuries required hospitalization versus 5.2 percent of injuries from home trampolines.) And this problem may get worse as more centers pop up. Between this and recent news revealing bounce houses as harbingers of heatstroke, it's not looking good for kids who want to show off their somersault skills on the weekend.