Sometimes the view from the soapbox is a good view. Recently I was chastised by fellow coaches and club owners because I have a section on my website (down on the bottom of the page)that corresponds with a blog post made here awhile back. I stated that trampoline is dangerous. Some saw it as a statement that countered getting kids to enroll in our programs but my intention was to let parents know that trampoline can be dangerous. My position was that parents need to know that unsupervised and uninstructed, kids can get hurt. I pointed out that they should at least get their kids enrolled in an instructional program so they learn falling, basics and safety.
Recently the American Acedmy of Pediatrics made a formal statement agreeing with me. Ah, sweet vindication. The AAP was very detailed in their position. In the past they had brought up that trampolines in general have some risk. But their study indicates that “Trampoline injury rates have steadily been decreasing since 2004.” because of solid instructional facilities that provide good training. Yet in fact over 97,000 children are still injured on trampolines each year. The study this time around focused on backyard trampolines and trampoline parks (these are popular businesses that have wall to wall trampolines with the intention of recreation and play areas for all levels with no or minimal instruction: see the USA Today article from February 2012); stating that BACKYARD/PARK trampolines are dangerous and parents should get their kids lessons before turning them loose. They stated that, at no time, should the trampoline be used without supervision and often parents have a false sense of safety by including padding and nets in their yards.
One of US’s National Trampoline Coaches and emergency room doctor, Dr. George Drew, consulted on the report and states “The authors were careful to separate competitive trampoline and structured training programs (like USA Gymnastics member clubs) from the injuries seen in backyard trampoline use and jump/trampoline parks,” said Drew, who is a past competitive trampolinist. “As a consultant to the study, I was pleased they took the time to carefully examine the safety differences between backyard trampolines and a structured program. Every single safety recommendation made by authors is already in place at any reputable program in our sport.” The reports’s advice to pediatricians is that they should “only endorse use of trampolines as part of a structured training program with appropriate coaching, supervision and safety measures in place.” THAT’S WHAT I WAS SAYING!
The report include advice on considerations regarding those families that do have backyard trampolines:
- they should check their homeowners insurance policy to be sure it actually covers trampoline related claims
- only one jumper is on the trampoline at a time, as multiple jumpers increase the risk of injury
- their kids should be instructed not to perform somersaults and flips, as they can lead to permanent and devastating cervical spine injuries
- the trampoline has adequate protective padding that is regularly inspected and is in good condition
- their trampoline is at ground level
- And most importantly, an adult should actively supervise kids on a trampoline at all times and should enforce the above rules.
“This is not the first time that AAP has examined trampoline use in their patient population,” said Drew. “This is the third official policy statement since 1971, but it is really the first time the authors and organization have recognized the differences between backyard trampolines and structured training programs. One of the key points in the statement is, ‘Given the significant differences between the recreational and the structured training settings, extrapolation of data from the recreational setting to a formal training program is not appropriate.’ This is an indication of the thorough examination done by the authors, and the recognition that the trampoline is a piece of gymnastics equipment that was not intended to become a backyard toy.”
The statement was put out by the American pediatricians but the news is welcomed worldwide. Here is a news story from Canadian TV.
In essence, if you now own, or aspire to own a backyard trampoline: get your kids in a class at a gym like Gymfinity where they can learn how to be safe. Do not rely on safety equipment and padding to be 100%, get rid of the trampoline if it is broken, old or otherwise questionable. If you are looking for an investment: don’t drop your money into bounce parks. And most importantly, I was right.