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Are trampoline parks causing more injuries for kids?

With their growing popularity, the number of injuries at Trampoline parks has risen significantly, and as a result, bouncing more children into emergency rooms, found a new study.

Today's guest blogger is Evan Weiner, MD, FAAP, director, department of Emergency Medicine, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

Trampoline parks, facilities equipped with wall-to-wall opportunities to jump, have become a popular spot for children and families. With the growing popularity, the number of injuries at these parks has risen significantly, and as a result, bouncing more children into emergency rooms, found a study in Pediatrics released online today.

In 2014 alone, trampoline park injuries rose to 6,932 up from just 581 in 2010. This drastic increase in injury correlates to the growing number of trampoline parks with 280 parks of this kind in existence in 2014 compared to just 35 to 40 in 2011, according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks.

Trampolines can be dangerous, and the rising numbers of injuries found in this study are cause for alarm. As the safety concerns of trampolines are widely known, researchers looked at data on trampoline injuries from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System in order to identify trends and compare characteristics between trampoline park injuries and home trampoline injuries. It is interesting to note that there are higher odds of hospital admission for trampoline park injuries, while the majority of trampoline injuries occur at home.

Although less likely to be treated for head related injuries, patients coming in for trampoline park related injuries were commonly seen with injuries to the lower extremities, including sprains and fractures, but more serious injuries including open fractures, cervical spine and skull fractures were reported. Patients treated for trampoline park related injuries were also more likely to be males at the average age of 13.

In my experience, I've treated many children, male and female, of various ages with trampoline related injuries, ranging from minor sprains, strains and fractures to severe injuries like paralysis. It's disturbing to see children coming in with injuries of this kind, regardless if the trampoline accident happened at a park versus at home.

Due to the risk of injury, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the recreational use of trampolines by children, especially those under the age of 5 as they are at the highest risk for injury. The younger the child, the more likely they are to break bones due to their skeletons being less mature.

Despite the safety concerns, there are many families that will continue to use trampolines and visit trampoline parks. If you and your children plan to visit a trampoline park, consider taking the following precautions to help your children stay safe.

Survey the facility

Make sure the trampolines are in good condition and offer adequate padding without rips or tears, or exposed springs, frames or bars. Contact with these exposed structures can cause minor to serious injury. Although there are rules provided by trampoline parks, keep in mind that these rules don't prevent accidents from happening.

Allow one jumper per trampoline

Keep an eye on your child, and only allow one child to jump at a time on a trampoline. Multiple kids jumping together on a trampoline increases the risk of collision, resulting in fractures or head injuries. This is especially important if there are kids of different sizes, and helps to avoid the problem of children knocking one another off the trampoline.

Avoid acrobatics

Don't allow your child to perform flips, somersaults or tricks while on a trampoline. Many injuries occur due to falling or "landing wrong," and failed attempts at acrobatic stunts can also cause cervical spine injuries. In addition, don't allow your children to play games like dodgeball or volleyball while jumping. Finally, make sure children don't jump off the trampoline while dismounting. Falls have been associated with more severe injuries such as fractures requiring surgery.

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