Trampoline parks have jumped in popularity in recent years, and so have visits to the emergency room from park-related injuries, a new study has found.
Trips to the emergency room due to injuries at trampoline parks shot up 12 fold in the past five years. In 2010, there were 581 ER visits for injuries from trampoline parks versus 6,932 in 2014. During those years, the number of parks multiplied from 25 to 350 nationwide. Last year, there were 460 in North America, mostly in the U.S., and another 220 around the globe, the industry says.
‘Trampoline park injuries have risen 12 fold in the past five years. Children and teenagers accounted for most of the injuries. Some serious skull and open leg fractures have also been reported.’
The study by researchers at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford was published in Pediatrics
. They analyzed a national injury database
Sprains and dislocations are the most common injuries for trampoline park-goers.. Some of the most serious injuries included skull and open leg fractures and spinal cord trauma, according to study author and pediatrician Dr Kathryn Kasmire of Connecticut Children's Medical Center. She said the injuries in some cases led to paralysis and surgery.
Kasmire said 1 in 11 children or young adults who went to the emergency room for park injuries was admitted to the hospital. But 90% of the injured were treated and released.
Two-thirds of the trampoline park injuries were in kids aged 6 to 17 years, while about 1 in 5 were in ages 18 and up. Only 14% were younger than age 6, while that age group accounted for 30% of those injured on home trampolines.Boys, average age 13 years, were hurt more often than girls.
Most trampoline injuries occur at home, not in indoor parks, and the researchers cite data showing that ER visits for home injuries were mostly stable during the study years, totaling about 60,000 each year. Almost 9% of park injuries required hospital admission, compared with 5.2% of injuries from home trampolines
The International Association of Trampoline Parks says the rate of injury is very low, less than one per 10,000 jumpers at a typical park. It mentioned that there were an estimated 50 million North American visits in the past year to the parks. It said the rise in injuries should be expected because of more parks in recent years. According to the trampoline parks association, the typical trampoline park is up to 40,000 square feet, and holds various trampoline courts. Each court contains any number of trampoline beds that are connected to each other to form one large surface that's enclosed with padded side walls, or sometimes angled trampolines.
"We believe that the positives of youth recreational sports far outweigh the negatives, and we are actively engaged in programs aimed at promoting the safety and well-being of jumpers who visit our member parks," the group said in a statement.
Kasmire admitted that parks have done a good job of ensuring that youngsters do not fall off trampolines, reducing the likelihood of head injuries, because the floors are covered with a bouncy surface. Though it can increase the risk of other injuries if a person lands between two trampolines, she said.
Kasmire noted that the study could not determine the likelihood of being injured at a park, adding, "we already know that any kind of trampoline is a relatively dangerous activity for children."
However, that outward impression of safety can be a double-edged sword, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Padded walls and adult supervision help, Glatter said. "But," he added, "they can give parents a false sense of security." Children can still get hurt if they collide with other kids, hit the trampoline frame, or land awkwardly, Glatter pointed out.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against trampoline use for all children but says if children do use them, they should not do flips or have more than one jumper at a time on a trampoline. The academy said adult supervision is needed and that trampolines should also have proper padding.