Originally created 07/03/05

Jumping on trampoline often can result in injuries



HOLLAND, Mich. -- Theresa Reagan vividly remembers the moment of her daughter Kelsey's trampoline injury last year. It replays in her head like a bad video.

"She was jumping on the tramp, and when she was coming down, she squealed in pain," Ms. Reagan said.

Kelsey Donk, now 11, had a diagonal fracture of her left shin bone. The injury put her in a wheelchair for nine weeks.

Her parents were following all the basic safety rules: limiting the equipment to one jumper and watching over the children using it. Ms. Reagan said her daughter was simply jumping, not flipping.

Ms. Reagan and her husband, Tony Donk, briefly discussed selling or giving away the $500 trampoline, but then decided to throw it out.

"The cost was inconsequential when you consider if someone got injured again," Mr. Donk said. "We couldn't, in good conscience, sell it or give it away to someone else."

The number of trampoline-related injuries is high. Trampoline defenders say that most of the injuries are of the "kids will be kids" variety and that statistics should be viewed in context with other sports and recreational equipment.

Between 1990 and 2000, 11 people died from trampoline-related injuries; six fatalities were between the ages of 12 and 19.

Typical injuries are less serious - cuts and broken bones - but fans of trampolines say the pastime is no more dangerous than other recreational activities - activities that health authorities say Americans are lacking.

"With adult and childhood obesity growing to staggering levels, it is important for all of us to promote physical activity," said Lani Loken, the executive director of the International Trampoline Industry Association Inc., in an e-mail. "Bouncing on a trampoline uses all muscle groups, and the caloric expenditure has been related to that of jogging - with the added benefit that it is less impacting. In addition, trampolining has the unique aspect of being fun!"

Trampoline injuries have tended to increase in proportion to the popularity of the backyard bouncers. The federal government tallied an average 41,600 trampoline injuries annually from 1990 through 1995. In 2000, the year trampolining was deemed an Olympic sport, an estimated 666,000 trampolines were sold, and the number of injuries increased to 100,303.

Safe Tramploining

  • One at a time.
  • Competent adult supervision and instruction are needed for children at all times.
  • The trampoline legs should be fixed in the ground.
  • Locate equipment away from structures, sandboxes and swing sets.
  • The supporting bars, strings and surrounding landing surfaces should have adequate protective padding.
  • Spotters should be present when participants are jumping. A net around the perimeter of the trampoline might help reduce the number of injuries from falls, but should not be used as a substitute for adult supervision.
  • Somersaults and other high-risk maneuvers should be avoided without proper supervision and instruction; these maneuvers should be done only with the proper use of protective equipment, such as a harness.
  • Do not use the trampoline in inclement weather conditions.
  • Do not use ladders for the trampoline because they provide unsupervised access by small children.
  • Children younger than 6 should not use a full-size trampoline.
  • Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Consumer Product Safety Commission