Trampoline parks often portray themselves as fun, family friendly places for children to play and celebrate. This image has paid off big time for the more than 800 trampoline parks across the country as they rake in record profits hosting birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, and other gatherings. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has long discouraged the use of indoor trampoline parks for young children, due to the elevated chance of serious bodily harm from falls, sprains, broken bones, and head trauma. A new study released in January reveals just how extensive the rate of injuries is inside these dangerous attractions.
The study, which was conducted by a team of physicians and released in the latest issue of Pediatrics, the official medical journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, examined the incidence of broken bones in people under the age of 18 from 2008-2017. They discovered a nearly 4% rise in trampoline-related bone fractures during the nine-year period covered in the study. By 2017, over 6% of all pediatric broken bones in the U.S. originated in trampoline parks. The research team also identified a startling discrepancy in injuries that occurred at public trampoline parks versus private, home use trampolines. According to their data, children are 32% more likely to break a bone at a public trampoline park than on a home trampoline due to increased risk factors such as lax supervision from staff and poorly maintained equipment.
One Colorado family recently experienced firsthand what it is like when a child suffers a serious injury at a trampoline park. A Colorado mom took her three-year-old daughter to a Denver area trampoline facility and watched in horror as her child went from happily playing one moment to writhing in pain the next. “We were just watching her bouncing and she was giggling and all of a sudden she just kind of crumpled,” the mother recounted in an interview with CBS Denver. The minor child was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Colorado and diagnosed with a broken femur as a direct result of her fall at the trampoline park. The break was so severe that doctors had to place two metal plates and six pins in her leg to reset the bone, and she spent a month in a cast that covered half her body. Dr. Gaia Georgopoulos, who co-authored the study and treated the child at the hospital, explained to CBS Denver how the industrial sized trampolines at indoor parks can cause such severe damage to a child’s body. “It doesn’t take a lot of force. Just the impact of them coming down and the tramp coming up is enough to break their bones.”
Unfortunately, innocent families like the one above will continue to fall victim to the increasing rate of trampoline park injuries. With no federal regulations in place to dictate safety protocols for these facilities, legislation for inspections, equipment, and staff training are administered at the state level and vary wildly. Waiver and general negligence laws are also mandated at the state level, which means that in some areas a family may be able to pursue legal recourse for a trampoline injury even if a waiver was signed, while in other locations parents may face more challenges in holding a park accountable. While a few states are beginning to implement stricter trampoline park regulations than in years past, spending the day at one of these facilities can still propose risks and dangers.