When a Maine mother took to Facebook last summer to warn other parents about her son’s injury at a trampoline park, I wondered if many other children had been hurt at those facilities. I couldn’t find good numbers, partly because no regulatory agency in Maine was tasked with overseeing the parks.
Now, it’s clear that Sarah Leavitt’s son Justin, who broke his leg at Get Air in Portland, isn’t alone.
A new study finds that emergency room visits for injuries at trampoline parks are soaring. That’s no surprise given how the parks are growing in popularity, lead study author Dr. Kathryn Kasmire of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford told Reuters.
In 2011, only about 40 trampoline parks operated in the U.S. By 2014, that shot up to 280, according to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers examined data from a nationwide injury registry, zeroing in on the years 2010 to 2014. They excluded parks that offer other activities in addition to wall-to-wall trampolines.
The study found injuries at trampoline parks led to nearly 7,000 ER visits in 2014, a 10-fold increase from 2010.
But the vast majority of trampoline injuries occurred at homes, not at parks. The average number of ER visits for such injuries totaled nearly 92,000 over the study period.
Sprains and fractures were the most common types of injuries, regardless of the setting. Dislocated joints were twice as likely at trampoline parks versus at home, the study found.
Jumpers at parks were less likely to sustain head injuries — probably because of the wall-to-wall design of the trampolines — but more likely to get admitted to the hospital.
Patients hurt at parks had a mean age of 13.3 years, compared to 9.5 years for kids hurt on home trampolines. Most of the patients were boys.
Because of the injury risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics is not a fan of recreational trampolines.
“Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use a home trampoline because of the risk of serious injury even when supervised,” the academy wrote in its 2016 summer safety tips. “Surrounding trampoline netting offers a false sense of security and does not prevent many trampoline-related injuries. Most injuries happen on the trampoline, not from falling off.”
But trampolines are probably here to stay. If kids do use a trampoline, they should be supervised by an adult and only one child should jump at a time, the academy recommends.