July 12, 2007 / 3:43 PM / 11 years ago

Dramatic jump seen in trampoline-related injuries

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The number of emergency room visits by children injured on trampolines has more than doubled over the past decade, a new study shows.

Children play on a trampoline at their home in Nogales, Arizona, May 21, 2006. The number of emergency room visits by children injured on trampolines has more than doubled over the past decade, a new study shows. REUTERS/Jeff Topping

There were just over half a million such visits in the U.S. in 2000-2005, compared to a quarter-million in 1990-1995, Dr. James G. Linakis of Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues found.

“The amount of the increase astounded us,” Linakis told Reuters Health, noting that in 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urged pediatricians to tell parents not to buy trampolines for home use, or let their children use home trampolines. “For whatever reason the message doesn’t seem to be getting through,” he said.

The AAP first called for a ban on trampolines in schools in 1977. Four years later, the group allowed for a “trial period” of limited trampoline use in schools, but stated that “the trampoline should never be used in home or recreational settings.”

To understand whether safety warnings might have led to a drop in pediatric trampoline injuries, Linakis and his team looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. They found a 113% increase in these injuries between 1990-1995 and 2000-2005. During both time periods, 95% of the injuries had occurred on home trampolines.

The “dramatic” increase was likely due to the increased availability of home trampolines, Linakis and his colleagues say. People can now purchase a backyard trampoline for about $200, they note in their report in Academic Emergency Medicine, and 1.2 million new trampolines were sold in the US in 2004.

Thirteen percent of the 2000-2005 injuries occurred in children younger than 5, and most injuries in these younger children were fractures. Among older children, soft tissue injuries such as bumps and bruises were the most frequent injury type.

While “bumps and bruises” may not sound serious, Linakis noted, it’s important to note that these injuries were severe enough to bring children to the emergency room.

He said that within the last few months, he personally has seen two or three children with “really nasty fractures” due to trampoline use, which resulted in serious complications and required several surgeries to treat.

According to Linakis, home trampolines can never be truly safe. “Parents really practically can’t supervise kids to the extent that they need to be supervised on a trampoline,” he said.

He and his colleagues conclude: “Emergency physicians should join our pediatrician colleagues in their recommendation to parents to ‘never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines’, and advocate for additional interventions to address this injury problem.”

SOURCE: Academic Emergency Medicine, June 2007.

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