Take care with trampolines

Falls can cause head and neck injuries


Kyra Jenkins’ grandparents thought their 3-year-old granddaughter would have fun with a trampoline. After all, what do kids love more than bouncing? 

But one day while jumping Kyra fell, landing on her head. Luckily, she was fine.

Other kids aren’t so lucky. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, trampoline injuries resulted in 98,395 emergency room visits in 2003. Eighty-two percent of the injuries were to kids under 15. In 2001, two deaths were reported.

While trampolines may be fun, parents who are considering buying one—or have one already—need to understand the risks. Especially since spring and summer are hot trampoline-buying seasons, according to the Oregon-based International Trampoline Industry Association.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends trampolines never be used at home, in physical education classes or at outdoor playgrounds—which pretty much rules out using them. Period.

“Clearly there are risks associated with trampolines, as there are with bicycles, scooters, baseball and diving boards,” says Dr. Elizabeth Powell, a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, who recently treated a boy for a trampoline-related head injury. Parents can do a lot to mitigate the risks.”

If you do have a trampoline, here are some safety guidelines:

n Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.

n Do not attempt or allow somersaults—landing on the head or neck can cause paralysis.

n Do not use the trampoline  without shock-absorbing pads that cover the springs, hooks and frame.

n Place the trampoline away from structures, trees and other play areas.

n No child under 6 years old should use a full-size trampoline.

n Do not use a ladder with a trampoline because it provides unsupervised access by small children.

n Always supervise kids on a trampoline.

n Consider buying a trampoline enclosure, which can help prevent injuries from falls.

Sometimes, though, safety precautions don’t do it. Last winter, the safety commission and JumpKing Inc. recalled 1 million JumpKing trampolines and 296,000 enclosures after welds on the trampoline frames broke during use. FunRing enclosures also had sharp edges, which could cause lacerations. The company received 47 reports of welds breaking, resulting in concussions, a broken arm, sprains, lacerations, bruises and head, neck and back injuries.

After Kyra’s fall, her mom, Erin, bought a 6-foot-high safety net for the trampoline. Erin lets Kyra jump on it, but says she keeps a close eye on things.

“Kyra wasn’t afraid and she still jumps,” says Erin. “Obviously supervision isn’t enough because you can’t get around a 16-foot trampoline quickly enough to help a child in trouble.” Dina Weinstein

Kids Eat Chicago

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