Pediatricians Warn of Risk of Serious Injury to Children from Recreational Trampoline Use
Trampolines are a common feature in the backyards of homes with children across the country. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, they pose a significant risk of injury to children and teens, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal fractures. Estimates of the total number of injuries caused by trampoline-related accidents every year extend into the hundreds of thousands. The trampoline was not originally intended for recreational use, but rather to train athletes and pilots. The AAP therefore advises against the recreational use of trampolines, especially in a home environment.
A competitive gymnast named George Nissen patented the trampoline in 1945 as a “tumbling device.” He intended to use it to train gymnasts and acrobats, and he expanded its use to include training of military pilots. Once manufacturers learned how to produce trampolines that could be broken down, shipped, and reassembled, the recreational trampoline was born. The AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness published a study on trampoline safety among children and teens in the October 2012 issue of the AAP’s journal, Pediatrics. It estimates that nearly 100,000 injuries resulted from trampoline use in 2009, with about 3,100 hospitalizations and deaths.
The most common injuries resulting from trampoline use, according to the AAP, occur in the lower extremities. These account for one-third to half of all trampoline-related injuries, and largely involve sprains or fractures of the ankle. Injury to the cervical spine is a common result of trampoline accidents, caused when a trampoline user lands incorrectly or falls off the trampoline entirely. Between ten and seventeen percent of trampoline-related injuries consist of head and neck injuries, many of which resulted in some degree of physical or cognitive impairment. The AAP states that 0.5% of all trampoline accidents result in permanent neurological impairment.
The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) notes that both the rate of trampoline-related injuries and the severity of those injuries has increased along with the rate of recreational trampoline use. It offers tips for safe trampoline use and recommends prohibitions on the use of trampolines by anyone age six or younger. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also offers tips to improve safety. Trampoline manufacturers have added safety features, such as nets surrounding the perimeter of a trampoline to keep people from falling off, but so far they do not appear to have reduced the rate of injuries. The AAOS notes that extent of preparation and diligence required to set up and monitor a trampoline safely is difficult for most non-professionals to accomplish.
Multiple lawsuits have resulted from injuries occurring during trampoline use in Florida and around the country. A recent case in Washington state shows that even professionally-managed trampoline facilities can allegedly pose dangers. The family of a seventeen year-old who suffered partial paralysis at a trampoline gym is one of eighteen families suing the facility. The teen suffered a spinal fracture when he hit his neck on the frame of a trampoline. The lawsuit claims negligence for failing to install sufficient padding around the frame and for failing to provide adequate supervision or security.
The personal injury attorneys at Cohn & Smith represent the rights of people in South Florida who have been injured by a person’s negligent or unlawful conduct, or by dangerous or defective consumer products. Contact us today online, at (954) 431-8100, or at (305) 624-9186 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers.
Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence (PDF file); Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness; Pediatrics; originally published online September 24, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2082
Trampoline Safety (PDF file); U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; Publication 085, R042012
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