Indoor trampoline parks sound like a fun way to spend a hot summer day, but one family learned the hard way how repetitive jumping can put kids in serious danger.
Kait Ellen posted on Facebook last week after her 3-year-old son Colton fell and broke his femur — the largest and strongest bone in the human body — at a bounce spot. What she learned while at the hospital shocked both her and his dad. According to their pediatric orthopedic surgeon, no kids under the age of 6 should ever use a trampoline. “This is due to the fact that their fragile bones are not meant to withstand the repetitive pressure from jumping,” she wrote.
Her family’s experience is not unusual. The number of U.S. emergency room visits for trampoline park-related injuries skyrocketed from 581 in 2010 to 6,932 in 2014, according to a study published in Pediatricslast year. The venues’ growing popularity is putting people in the hospital for sprains, fractures, concussions and serious spinal cord injuries. Potential damage to the head or neck can lead to permanent paralysis or even death, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Of course backyard trampolines aren’t immune either. Those sent an average of 91,750 people per year to the hospital during the same time period. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states children under the age of 6 should never use trampolines, while the AAP advises against recreational trampolining altogether. Collisions, falls and improper landings can all cause severe harm, and the littlest, youngest kids are the ones most at risk.
Although the experts agree toddlers should stay away, many parents are unaware of the potentially devastating consequences, or believe certain safety features provide adequate protection. “Families need to know that many injuries occur on the mat itself,” Michele LaBotz, MD, FAAP, said in a 2012 AAP statement. “Current data do not appear to demonstrate that netting or padding significantly decrease the risk of injury.”
Ellen herself voiced frustration with trampoline parks’ misleading messages in her Facebook post.
“Our lives have been turned upside down since Colton’s accident and every day is a struggle for his sweet 3-year-old self as he adjusts to life in a hip spica cast for the next six weeks,” she wrote. “We share this with you today to spread awareness that these facilities are specifically advertising for Toddler Time, when in fact toddlers should be no where near trampolines.”
Her post soon racked up over 175,000 shares as other surprised parents started spreading the word. If you’re going to skip the trampoline park this summer, stick to the tried-and-true favorites instead. The AAP suggests classics like a game of catch, team sports or a bike ride — just wear a helmet of course!