Trampoline Parks are Causing Injuries at an Alarming Rate
Though home trampoline injuries still make up the vast majority of all trampoline injuries, injuries at trampoline parks continue to climb as the parks become more popular. According to statistics cited in the American Journal of Nursing, injuries sustained at trampoline parks accounted for 6,932 emergency department visits in 2014, a 12-fold increase from 2010. There are more than double the number of parks in 2018 as there were then. That means there could be as many as 15,000 trampoline park injuries requiring an emergency room visit per year. And that is just what would be documented! According to Scientific American, the number of trampoline parks throughout the nation have skyrocketed as well, multiplying by nearly seven times in just three years, an increase that explains that upsurge in trampoline park injuries. As parks continue to grow more popular, approximately five to six new parks open each month. By the end of 2017, there were approximately 450 trampoline parks nationwide. It might not be dramatic to say that trampoline and jump parks are hiding in plain sight as one of the most common cause of traumatic injuries in America.
Park Injuries Are Typically More Severe Than Home Injuries
Though the majority of trampoline injuries continue to occur on at-home trampolines (there are an average 91,750 recorded trampoline injuries each year), researchers fear that injuries at trampoline parks are far more serious than those sustained at home. According to NPR, nearly nine percent of park injuries required hospitalization, compared with just 5.2 percent of injuries sustained on home trampolines. According to Kathryn Kasmire, author of the study and a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the University of Connecticut, when a person is admitted for an injury, it is usually because the injury requires surgery or because the patient is in serious pain.
Most Common Types of Trampoline Park Injuries
Though the data is still relatively unclear and incomplete regarding the types of injuries sustained at trampoline parks, findings published in Scientific American back what Kasmire suggests: that injuries sustained at trampoline parks are far more severe than those sustained on home trampolines. Below are a few surprising stats regarding injuries at trampoline parks compared to those sustained on at-home trampolines:
- Though sprains and fractures are the most usual types of trampoline injuries, sprains were 61 percent more likely at trampoline parks.
- Individuals are two times more likely to sustain a dislocation at a trampoline park than they are at home.
- Indoor parks caused more lower-extremity and head injuries than home trampolines.
- Fractures were much more common in younger children than in teens and adults at trampoline parks, account for almost half of all trampoline park injuries in kids under the age of six.
- Though younger children were more likely to sustain fractures at trampoline parks than they were at home, they were less likely to sustain injuries than teenagers and young adults.
- Leg fractures accounted for 59 percent of hospital admissions and elbow fractures 34 percent.
- Spinal cord injuries have occurred in 17- to 20-year-old individuals who have attempted to do backflips.
There are many examples of these injuries in the news across North America. For example, Fox News reported a 4-year-old girl in Canada underwent surgery to fix a fractured ankle and broken leg after falling at the Extreme Air Park in New Westminster. In South Florida, a young woman had her ankle broken when another jumper landed on her ankle. Many similar injuries happen at parks that are not reported.
While the data is inconclusive, the numbers do show that trampoline parks are more dangerous than parents believe, and that lack of awareness is part of the growing problem. Emergency medicine physician at Texas Children’s Hospital Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, has seen her fair share of trampoline-related ER visits, and worries that parents don’t realize how significant park injuries can be, or how frequently they occur.
Supervision Is Often Not Possible and is Never Enough
SkyZone, one of the largest trampoline parks in the nation, has stated that if you can walk you can jump. However, the company’s policy also states that individuals must stay on their own trampolines – no two people are allowed to jump at one time. But are policies such as this enough? The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and several other groups suggest that no, it is not.
SkyZone, when asked, stated that as with any physical sport or activity, there are inherent risks. The company takes measures to alleviate risks, such as supervising participants and educating guests, but are they sufficient. Obviously not with statistics like those above. If a parent allows a child to go to a trampoline park, perhaps there should be a policy that the parent supervise his or her own child. But that would mean less business for the parks and, it’s not actually possible in many jump parks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics backs up what Kasmire says almost verbatim, stating that when trampolines are used for fun, children should have constant adult supervision. Each trampoline should only have one jumper at a time, and kids should avoid somersaults and flips entirely. The AAP adds a bit more advice, suggesting that all jumpers wear protective padding before entering a trampoline.
Trampolines Are Dangerous
Dr. Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance and lead author of the AAP recommendations on trampolines, reminds parents, teenagers and adults that trampolines are not toys. They were originally developed as a tool for gymnasts, acrobats and fighter pilots—not to be used as a backyard jungle gym. As the number of trampoline parks continues to soar throughout the country, so too will the number of injuries at trampoline parks. This is an epidemic.
American Journal of Nursing, https://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2016/11000/More_Trampoline_Parks,_More_Injuries.12.aspx
Texas Children’s Hospital, https://www.texaschildrens.org/find-a-doctor/katherine-jennifer-leaming-van-zandt-md