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What fun it is to jump and play! Trampolines certainly look like fun, with users flying through the air like a trapeze artist and flipping around only to bounce up again, not to mention the cardiovascular and muscular benefits conferred by this exercise. Because of the balance and conditioning benefits, trampolines were first used to train fighter pilots in WW II. Nevertheless, despite the apparent fun, trampolines present an unacceptable risk for serious injury. There have been numerous studies over the last fifteen years documenting these risks. The most recent is a study by Linakis, published this year in the Journal of the Academy of Emergency Medicine. Linakis found that trampoline injuries account for over 88,500 Emergency Department visits per year in the US. Of these injuries, 54% occur in males, 13% in children under 5 years old, 66% were in children aged 5-12 years old, and 21% in the 13-18 year old age group. Most injuries were bruises, fractures and dislocations, although an occasional child suffered a catastrophic spinal injury resulting in paralysis. Over three percent of injured children had to be hospitalized and a staggering 95% of the injuries occurred at home!
As a result of this data, which has been conformed over the years by multiple investigators, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reconfirmed their policy statement:
"Despite all currently available measures to prevent injury, the potential for serious injury while using a trampoline remains. The need for supervision and trained personnel at all times makes home use extremely unwise.
The limited use of trampolines under direct supervision of physical therapists, athletic trainers, or other appropriately trained individuals for specific medical conditions, including conditioning and/or rehabilitation of injuries, is not addressed in this statement." They further state that limited use of trampolines in supervised training programs (eg, gymnastics, diving, and other competitive sports), should include specific design and behavioral recommendations (see http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;103/5/1053). In any situation of trampoline use, no flips should be permitted, only one user at a time should be on the equipment, use should constantly be supervised and the trampoline frame should be padded.
We certainly want children to maintain conditioning and want them to have fun, but in a way that does not pose such a serious risk of injury. We support the recommendations in the AAP policy statement and encourage parents and schools to seek alternative methods to accomplish these goals.
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