Annual injuries from backyard trampolines have nearly doubled in the past decade, according to a study by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and its pediatric unit, Hasbro Children's Hospital. The study reviewed trampoline injuries to children from a sample of emergency departments across the United States.
According to the study, nearly 75,000 children on average were seen in emergency departments for trampoline injuries each year during 2001 and 2002. This represents a marked jump from the early- to mid-1990s, when a similar study showed an average of almost half the number of injuries each year. Most of the injuries, 91 percent, occurred at home.
"Parents so far have not gotten the message that trampolines should not be used in the home environment. They should be used in very structured, well-monitored environments, with proper supervision. Frankly, that supervision probably doesn't and can't happen at home," says James G. Linakis, MD, PhD, a pediatric emergency physician at Hasbro Children's Hospital and an associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at Brown Medical School.
An abstract of the study will be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 15. Linakis, along with colleagues from Hasbro Children's Hospital and the Rhode Island Hospital Injury Prevention Center, reviewed a sample of U.S. hospitals from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for 2001 and 2002. They compared the data to a previous study that examined trampoline injuries from 1990 to 1995. At that time, there were an average 41,600 emergency department visits for trampoline injuries per year, compared to 74,696 emergency visits each year during 2001 and 2002.
Also, researchers found that injuries serious enough to require hospitalization increased dramatically - jumping from 1,400 annually in the first study to 2,128 annually in the current study. In both studies, fractures or dislocations remained the predominant reason for hospitalization. However, by 2002, emergency rooms were seeing an increase in lacerations, or cuts, in children who needed to be hospitalized.
"Trampolines, particularly trampolines at home, are an increasingly major source of injuries to children," Linakis says. "It's still a significant problem, and the problem is growing compared to the early '90s."