Given the recent surge in the popularity of trampoline parks and a corresponding rise in serious injuries, some doctors and safety experts are calling on legislators to pass laws to protect children from suffering potentially life-altering harm.
According to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, trampoline accidents cause 160 injuries for every 100,000 children between the ages of five and 14 years old. Trampolines are notoriously dangerous playthings and have for decades had a reputation for causing serious injuries to kids.
However, until recently many trampolines were confined to back yards and were relatively small, only able to hold a handful of children at a time. Recently, a wave of new trampoline parks has spread across the country, with huge facilities now able to accommodate hundreds of children at one time. This increase in popularity has seen a corresponding increase in trampoline-related injuries, with reports showing that there were 98,000 trampoline park-related injuries last year alone.
The owners of these trampoline parks have taken steps to increase safety, such as equipping the facilities with nets and large amounts of padding. Many if not all trampoline parks also require visitors or their parents to sign a waiver before jumping. Despite these steps, children continue to receive serious injuries from the parks, prompting calls for action.
Dr. Craig Cook, a trauma surgeon at a Utah hospital says that the injuries children sustain at these trampoline parks can be “like a war type of injury.” Doctors say that the injuries commonly seen are not sprained ankles or minor concussions, but are instead life-altering injuries, the kind typically seen in high-speed car crashes.
In one especially tragic case, a 20-year-old college freshman went with friends to a trampoline park and left paralyzed. The young man says he was jumping from a trampoline into a pit of foam blocks, designed to cushion his fall, when he fell straight through the bricks, landing on his head. The injury left him with a broken vertebra in his neck, which resulted in complete paralysis from the neck down.
Despite the seriousness of some of the injuries, many states have been slow to take steps to regulate trampoline parks. California is one state that has moved to ensure the safety of the parks, creating an inspection program for the jump gyms that is similar to those for amusement parks. California will require facilities to show proof of insurance, training and accurate injury reporting.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that for home-based trampolines, parents follow rules such as only allowing only one person on at a time, requiring constant adult supervision, not permitting somersaults or flips and prohibiting use by children younger than six. Safety experts say similar guidelines should be put in place for trampoline parks. We can only hope that the recent coverage of trampoline injuries will be enough to prompt legislators to take action to make this popular form of fun safer for its young participants.