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Trampolines extremely unhealthful for children's play, doctors warn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 24th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. pediatricians are urging parents to not let their children play on trampolines. Emergency departments across the country see nearly 100,000 injuries from the playthings annually.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The American Academy of Pediatrics in updating recommendations from 1999, caused trampoline manufacturers to add safety features to the items to minimize risks. These measures may "provide a false sense of security," according to the academy.

"As best we can tell, the addition of safety nets and padding has actually not changed the injuries we have seen," Dr. Susannah Briskin, a sports medicine specialist who helped draft the new statement says.

Trampoline injuries across the United States have been dropping, from 111,851 cases treated at emergency rooms in 2004, to 97,908 in 2009. That doesn't necessarily mean the devices have become any less dangerous, Briskin says.

"Even though there has been a decrease in injuries," she said, "I caution people against taking that too literally because the number of trampolines has also decreased."

The actual risk of hurting yourself if you step onto a trampoline is ambiguous, as there are no pertinent data on national exposure. The rate of hospitalization due to the injuries is about three percent.

Mark Publicover, founder and president of JumpSport Inc, a trampoline manufacturer in San Jose, California, scoffed at the new recommendations.

He says that his company invented a safety net that encircles the trampoline and cuts the number of injuries by half. If parents ban trampolines, he argues, their children might start climbing trees or using swings or skateboards.

"If you look at all those activities, a safety-enclosed trampoline is safer by hours of use," Publicover says. "When they say, 'Don't use trampolines with a safety enclosure,' they are going to increase the number of injuries."

According to the journal Pediatrics, three-quarters of injuries happen when more than one person are jumping at the same time, often when a small child is bouncing with a heavier playmate.

The impact of the heavier kid will thrust the smaller one high into the air, upping the chances of a rough landing, particularly if the kid comes down at an awkward point.

"Most of the injuries actually occur on the mat itself," Briskin says. A lot of ankle sprains and fractures in her clinic, especially the young kids, come from trampolines.

Not only children suffer trampoline-related injuries. New York Yankees baseball pitcher Joba Chamberlain dislocated his ankle while bouncing on a trampoline with his son.

"Not everything has complete recovery," Briskin says. "Head and neck injuries make up 10 to 15 percent of all injuries and those are the injuries that carry the greatest risk of leading to catastrophic damage."

About one in 200 trampoline injuries lead to permanent neurologic damage, according to the AAP.

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