In recent years, trampoline jumping has grown in popularity as a recreational activity. Trampolines are now commonly found in backyards, outdoor playgrounds, trampoline parks, and physical education classes.
Not surprisingly, along with this rise in popularity has come an increase in the number of trampoline-related injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were nearly 286,000 medically treated trampoline injuries in 2014—this includes more than 104,000 visits to the emergency room.
Most trampoline injuries occur on home trampolines and more than 90 percent are sustained by children—mostly between the ages of 5 and 14. More than three-quarters of trampoline injuries occur when two or more children are jumping at the same time and collide.
Other common causes of trampoline injuries include:
- Falling on the trampoline mat, frame, or springs
- Attempting somersaults, flips, and other risky stunts that go wrong
- Falling off the trampoline onto the ground or another hard surface
Most trampoline injuries involve sprains or fractures in the arms and legs; however, more severe injuries are not uncommon. Landing incorrectly when performing somersaults or other high-risk maneuvers often leads to head and neck injuries that can be particularly devastating—sometimes resulting in paralysis or even death.
To help reduce the number and severity of trampoline injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the following guidelines:
Maintain Your Trampoline
- Before jumping, ensure that the trampoline's supporting bars, springs, and surrounding landing surfaces are covered in adequate protective padding. All padding should be in good condition and positioned appropriately.
- Check equipment regularly for tears, detachments, and deterioration. Discard worn or damaged equipment if replacement parts are not available.
Supervise and Use Caution
- Provide careful adult supervision and instruction and ensure that jumpers follow proper safety measures at all times. This is important for both recreational trampoline jumping and for more structured trampoline activities—such as physical education classes, competitive gymnastics, and diving training.
- Do not allow a child younger than 6 years old to use a trampoline.
- Allow only one person at a time on the trampoline.
- Do not depend on a safety net enclosure alone to prevent injuries; the majority of injuries actually occur on the mat of the trampoline.
- Ensure that spotters are present when participants are jumping.
- Do not allow participants to perform somersaults or other high-risk maneuvers without proper supervision and instruction. In addition, these maneuvers should never be attempted without the proper use of protective equipment, such as a harness.
- Always place trampolines at ground level; a fall from a higher surface increases the risk of injury.
- Remove trampoline ladders after use to prevent young children from climbing in and jumping without supervision.
Like trampoline injuries, injuries related to inflatable bounce houses (sometimes called "moonwalks") are also on the rise. One study found that, from 1990 to 2010, more than 64,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for injuries sustained in bounce houses.
Because bounce houses have a relatively soft, enclosed playing surface, many parents and caregivers view them as being safer than trampolines. However, studies show that the types and causes of injuries experienced in bounce houses are similar to those experienced during trampoline jumping. For this reason, parents and caregivers should set clear rules for safe jumping in bounce houses and supervise their children as closely as if they were jumping on a trampoline.
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Reviewed by members of POSNA (Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America)
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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