Trampolines No Safer with Nets and Padding, Pediatricians Warn

A group of pediatricians have released new warnings about the recreational use of trampolines, indicating that there is no real way to keep them safe for children to play. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report last month in the journal Pediatrics, which represents a new position statement by the organization.

The report, “Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence” (pdf) found that safety measures put in place to make trampolines safer for recreational use by children have failed, including the addition of safety nets and padding.

The AAP found that trampoline injury rates for 2009 were 70 per 100,000 children four years old and under, and increased to 160 per 100,000 for children between the ages of five and 14. The group found that most of the injuries occurred when multiple users were on the trampoline.

The trampoline industry has attempted to address the safety concerns, the report notes, by extending padding to the frame and springs, improving the quality of the padding and by not including ladders that would help young children get onto the trampolines unattended. However, the report determined that “[e]nclosures and padding are not expected to prevent the large numbers of injuries that occur on the trampoline mat itself and may provide a false sense of security.”

The types of injuries sustained from trampolines vary. The most common injury is a fall from a trampoline, constituting 27% to 39% of all trampoline injuries. Another 20% of injuries occur when a child impacts the frame of the trampoline, and those injuries have not been lessened by the addition of frame padding, the report found.

“Pediatricians should counsel their patients and families against recreational trampoline use and explain that current data indicate safety measures have not significantly reduced injury rates and that catastrophic injuries do occur,” the report concludes.

The report follows a number of trampoline recalls in recent years. In May, about 92,000 Walmart trampolines were recalled due to problems with safety nets. The manufacturer, Sportspower Limited, received at least 17 reports of the nets breaking, allowing users to fall through. The injuries included broken bones, contusions, and neck and back injuries.

Adults using trampolines are encouraged to read all material provided by a manufacturer, make sure shock-absorbing material is laid down under and around the trampoline, periodically check the trampoline for wear, and to never use the trampoline during hours of darkness. Users are also encouraged to do warm up exercises before using trampolines and not to dismount by jumping off.

Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that more than half of all trampoline injuries, adult or child, occurred when there were two or more people using a trampoline simultaneously.

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