Trampolines are more popular than ever. But they're bouncing more U.S. kids into emergency rooms than ever before.
The warning comes from James G. Linakis, MD, PhD, a pediatric emergency doctor at Hasbro Children's Hospital and associate professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
From 1990 through 1995, trampolines sent 41,600 kids to U.S. emergency rooms each year. That nearly doubled in 2001-2002, when 74,696 kids each year wound up in the ER. More than 90 percent of these injuries happened on home trampolines.
"Parents so far have not gotten the message that trampolines should not be used in the home environment," Linakis says in a news release. "They should be used in very structured, well-monitored environments with proper supervision. Frankly, that supervision probably doesn't and can't happen at home."
Broken Bones, Dislocated Joints Most Common
Linakis presented the findings at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington.
According to a 2001 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 3 million backyard trampolines in use in the U.S. at that time. More than 500,000 home trampolines are sold each year.
Most of the trampoline injuries that send kids to the emergency room are broken bones or dislocated joints. Head and neck injuries make up 11 percent of the total.
Most worrisome is the increase in injuries serious enough for children to be admitted to the hospital. That number sprang from 1,400 per year in 1990-1995 to 2,128 per year in 2001-2002.
Nearly 80 percent of these serious injuries are badly broken bones or severe dislocations. But more than 8 percent of these serious injuries are to internal organs. While serious cuts make up only 4 percent of hospital admissions after trampoline injury, bad cuts nearly tripled by 2002.
Trampoline injuries were only slightly more common in boys. The most common age of children sent to the ER for trampoline injuries: 9.
Tips for Keeping Trampolines Safe
Here are tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to help prevent serious trampoline injuries:
— Allow only 1 person on the trampoline at a time.
— Do not attempt or allow somersaults.
— Do not allow trampolines to be used without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover the springs, hooks, and the frame.
— Place the trampoline away from structures and other play areas.
— Do not use a ladder with the trampoline because it provides unsupervised access by small children. No child under 6 years of age should use a full-sized trampoline.
— Always supervise children who use a trampoline.
SOURCES: Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, Washington, May 14-17, 2005. News release, Hasbro Children's Hospital, Providence, R.I. Consumer Product Safety Review, Winter 2001; vol: 5: pp 2-4. Consumer Product Safety Commission.