At-home trampolines are often advertised as a fun, safe outdoor activity for the whole family. And as many indoor trampoline parks remain closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the appeal of relatively affordable backyard trampolines has only increased. Sales of at-home trampolines skyrocketed this past spring when sweeping quarantine orders went into effect and parents suddenly needed new ways to keep their kids entertained during lockdown. Recent warnings from medical experts that the country may continue to fight the pandemic through the end of 2021 likely mean that at home trampolines will remain a hot ticket item through at least next summer. But the newfound popularity of background trampolines belies the tragic reality of the danger they pose to families who just want a way to enjoy themselves in the age of Covid.
According to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that were cited in a recent orthopedic journal article, trampolines caused more than 300,000 injuries nationwide in 2018 alone. Over 100,000 of those injuries were severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. Most troubling of all is the fact that the vast majority of trampoline accidents affect children between the ages of 5 and 14. Injuries range from sprains, fractures, and concussions to catastrophic head and neck trauma. These accidents often occur in the blink of an eye as a child attempts a flip and miscalculates the landing, or collides with another jumper.
A Pennsylvania family recently experienced the devastation that at home trampolines can cause when a 13-year-old girl was paralyzed while playing on her backyard trampoline. The child suffered a spinal stroke in her legs and feet on August 30th after she miscalculated a flip and landed on her head and neck. After a six day stay in the intensive care unit of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, she remains paralyzed from the chest down and is undergoing daily rehabilitation therapy in the hopes that she may one day walk again. While her mother recently explained in an interview with People magazine that she would “never advocate anyone using the trampoline” in the aftermath of her daughter’s accident, there are unfortunately thousands of families across the country who share in her heartbreak. And until the manufacturers of backyard trampolines are more honest with consumers about the safety risks their products pose to children, the suffering will continue.