by By A. Gabriel Schifman, DO, Medical Director, Pediatric ER at Overland Park Regional Medical Center

Kid’s loves to watch those slow-motion videos of weightless flight and flips that make jumping on a trampoline look so awesome. They can even experience that sensation of wild abandon in a gymnastics class. Now, the weather is warm and your young acrobat-in-training may be asking for a backyard trampoline. And you may be thinking, “Why not?” I’d rather he be outside burning off energy than gazing into a digital device. 

Before you cave or allowed her to play on a trampoline at a friend’s house, read the recommendation of The American Academy of Pediatrics. Even with adult supervision, gravity can quickly turn seconds-worth of free-flight fun into a sprained ankle, cut or bruise, broken limb, or worse, a potentially paralyzing head or neck injury.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were 104,691 hospital emergency room visits due to trampoline injuries in 2014. It also reported 22 trampoline-related deaths between 2000 and 2009. Most injuries were the result of colliding with other people on the trampoline, improperly landing or falling on the trampoline springs or frame. More serious injuries occurred from falling off the trampoline and hitting trees or other objects on the ground.

Young and old, girls and boys – trampoline safety is a concern

The American Academy of Pediatrics found that 75 percent of trampoline injuries occurred when there was more than one person on the trampoline at the same time. The smallest jumpers were 14 percent more likely to be injured. Children under age 6 accounted for more than a third of the trampoline injuries seen at emergency departments. Nearly half of the injuries to girls and boys under age 5 were fractures or dislocations. But older kids weren’t immune, with nearly a third of kids age 6 to 17 suffering breaks and sprains. Among all trampoline-related injuries, more than 10 percent were head and neck injuries. And when you think of all you do to try to grow the gray matter in your kids, that seems like a scary statistic. 

If you have a trampoline, or your jumping beans play on one at a friend’s house, here are safety tips to reduce the risk of injury:

  • ALWAYS have adult supervision present when children use the trampoline.
  • ONLY allow one child at a time on the trampoline.
  • DO NOT let children under age 6 use the trampoline, and do not have a ladder or any other means for them to climb onto the trampoline by themselves.
  • DO NOT ALLOW children to attempt somersaults or tricks or to grab or hang onto the enclosure netting.
  • DO make sure shock absorbing pads completely cover the springs, frame and hooks.
  • DO use trampoline enclosures to help prevent falls off the trampoline.
  • DO place trampolines on even ground away from structures, trees and other play areas.

For more pediatric health and safety advice, visit oprmc.com/pediatrics.