Should you buy your kids a trampoline? Here's what a doctor says
Update: This was originally a holiday-season story, but it's pertinent now with people scrambling to make the most of their own spaces and keep their distance from others.
Have you had that vision, the one of your kids squealing in delight (possibly on Christmas morning) as they discover their brand-new, backyard trampoline?
Have you also wondered: Is it a good idea, safety-wise, to have a backyard trampoline?
We took that question to Susanna Block, MD, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente and mother of two. Dr. Block writes the popular monthly Ask the Pediatrician newsletter.
Seattle's Child: Would a doctor buy a backyard trampoline for their kids? Should my family? (One doctor we know really wanted to, but she'd seen too many injuries and ultimately decided against it.)
Dr. Block: I completely understand the conflict about trampolines. As a pediatrician and a mother of two girls with loads of energy, the trampoline question comes up frequently. Unfortunately, a 2019 article in the American Academy of Pediatrics news reminded me that there have been over 1 million visits to the emergency department for trampoline-related injuries, most in children under 17 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of recreational trampolines. As fun as they are, I just can't bring myself to add one to our backyard.
SC: What about the fact that it's good exercise?
Dr. Block: Jumping on a trampoline is good exercise. In fact, trampolines were originally developed in the 1940s as a training tool for gymnasts and acrobats. Unfortunately, with the safety concerns, the exercise benefits are not worth the risk. A living-room dance party, going to the park or community center are great and safer alternatives. In fact, Dr. Block recently shared some great ideas for staying active in the winter.
SC: What types of injuries can result from trampoline use/misuse?
Dr. Block: Many emergency department visits for trampoline-related injuries are for sprains, dislocations, lacerations and contusions (bruises). Unfortunately, about 30% of trampoline-related injuries are for broken bones. One in 200 trampoline-related injuries leads to permanent neurologic injury. There are higher injury rates in younger and smaller children.
SC: If a family does decide to get a home trampoline, what precautions should be taken?
Dr. Block: We know that 75% of trampoline-related injuries occur when there is more than one child jumping at the same time. Precautions to take include having only one child jump at a time, avoiding flips, having adequate protective padding on the trampoline and ensuring that there is adult supervision at all times.