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.