Why trampolines aren't all fun and games

By Angela Rotundo on September 21, 2017

 

Kids love to bounce. It’s in them. Someone, somewhere took notice and now, trampoline parks are popping up all over the place. And that means that trampoline injuries are on the rise. While jumping the day away seems like innocent fun, parents should be aware of the risks involved and the safety precautions required, especially for toddlers.

Simply landing the wrong way can cause serious, permanent injuries. “We’re concerned, not only with the increase in trampoline-related injuries, but the severity of those injuries,” said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, chair of the CPS Healthy Active Living and Sport Medicine Committee. “Children often break bones or dislocate joints and frequently require surgery. Head injuries are also common, and in some cases injuries to the neck or back can cause paralysis or death.”

You think you are being safe, but injuries can happen even when a trampoline has a net and padding, and parents are watching. In fact, recent studies have shown that most trampoline injuries happen at home and children younger than six are at the greatest risk. With bones that are not yet fully developed, youngsters are not equipped for continuous bouncing and are more prone to injury.

Carrie Lawton and her three-yearold daughter Mae know firsthand that trampolines can pose a huge risk for toddlers. “My friend and her son came with my daughter Mae and I to a trampoline park, and when I heard they had a toddler time I didn’t think twice about her safety,” says Carrie. “I jumped on the trampoline while Mae was in the air and she came down twisting her ankle…or so I thought.”

When Carrie heard Mae’s cry, she knew something was seriously wrong. A trip to the emergency room and a few x-rays later, it was determined that Mae had a buckle fracture and required a splint. Carrie says she felt like a failure for not knowing more about trampoline safety and for putting her daughter at risk.

Recent statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that there were 4,247 documented cases of trampoline injuries treated in emergency rooms across 15 hospitals between 2005–2006 and 2009–2010.

According to healthychildren.org, some of the most common trampoline-related injuries include:

  • Broken bones (sometimes requiring surgery)
  • Concussions and other head injuries
  • Sprains/strains
  • Bruises, scrapes and cuts
  • Head and neck injuries (which can lead to permanent paralysis or death)

Most trampoline injuries occur when there are multiple people using a trampoline and kids can get hurt when they:

  • Land wrong while jumping
  • Land wrong while flipping and doing somersaults (this should not be allowed because of the risk of head and neck injuries)
  • Try stunts
  • Strike or are struck by another person
  • Fall or jump off the trampoline
  • Land on the springs or frame

As a parent who’s been through it, Carrie warns other parents about the dangers of trampolines. She suggests that the best ways to protect kids, teens and parents are education and information. “Read up about the age requirements for children and trampolines, and really pay attention to the pros and cons,” says Carrie. While Mae’s accident was minor, it was serious enough for Carrie to know that trampolines aren’t all fun and games.

If you suspect that your child does, in fact, have a broken bone, here’s what to do:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Remove clothing from the injured limb by cutting clothing. Do not attempt to remove clothing by forcing arms out of shirts, for example.
  • If possible, create a splint for the fractured area, keeping it in the “broken” position you found it.
  • Do not allow your child to eat, in case surgery is required to repair the injury.

After care:

  • Casts can become tight and uncomfortable due to swelling, so reduce swelling with ice. To keep the cast from becoming wet, put ice inside a sealed plastic bag and place a towel between the cast and the bag of ice. Place the ice on the cast, not on the skin.
  • Try to keep the cast elevated, especially for the first 48 hours after the injury occurs. Elevation will help to decrease the swelling and pain.
  •  Always keep the cast clean and dry.
  • Cover the cast with a plastic bag or wrap the cast when it comes time to bathe.
  • Do not lean on or push on the cast.
  • Do not put anything inside the cast. Do not try to scratch the skin under the cast with any sharp objects; it may break the skin under the cast and cause infection. Instead, blow air down the cast. Try using a hair dryer set on the lowest setting.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Fall 2017.


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