Across the United States, an explosive growth in recreational facilities boasting trampolines coincides with alarming growth in trampoline-related injuries in children, including those to the spine, according to new research.
Among youths, the risk for trampoline park–related fractures is about three times higher than for home-based trampoline fractures, said study author Serena Freiman, MD, of Washington University in St. Louis, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Recreational sports facilities with trampolines “pose a public health hazard,” Freiman said during a presentation at the virtual American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2020 National Conference.
“There aren’t any set regulations for these parks, so the American Society for Testing and Materials released a set of standards, but only Michigan and Arizona enforced those,” Freiman explained.
“Hopefully, since we’re showing a significant increased risk of injuries, the federal government will enforce regulations throughout the United States,” she told Medscape Medical News.
The first trampoline park in the United States opened in 2004, Freiman said. By 2018, there were more than 800 recreational facilities with trampolines across the country. This rapid growth coincided with a 45% increase in emergency department (ED) visits for trampoline-related injuries, from 61,509 in 2014 to more than 89,000 in 2017.
“There’s been exponential growth since their founding,” she said, “and with that we’ve also seen an exponential growth in injuries, whereas home injuries [from trampolines] remained stable during that time period.”
To assess the rates of trampoline-related injuries, Freiman and colleague analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). They included all patients whose records include a code for trampoline injury and who presented to a hospital ED between 1998 and 2017. They compared home trampoline injuries with those sustained at recreational facilities.
During the study period, more than 1.37 million patients presented to the ED for trampoline-related injuries. Of those, 125,473 occurred at recreational facilities, and 1.22 million occurred at home. Injuries at trampoline parks increased 90-fold between 2004 and 2017 (0.04 per 10,000 ED visits in 2004 to 0.9 per 10,000 in 2017), with 69% of those injuries occurring between 2012 and 2017.
Home-based trampoline injuries dropped during the study period, from 2.8 per 10,000 ED visits in 2014 to 1.6 in 2017.
Patients injured at trampoline facilities tended to present at large hospitals, Freiman noted, likely because of these parks being located in more populated regions.
The type of injury differed between locations. Severe injuries, such as spine fractures, occurred three times as often at trampoline parks than at home (2.7% vs 0.9%; P = .016).
Internal organ injuries occurred more frequently on home-based trampolines (20.1% home-based trampolines vs 2.3% trampoline parks; P < .001), whereas strains and sprains were more common at trampoline parks (32% vs 51%; P < .001).
“Since home trampolines are often off the ground, I would speculate that you’re more likely to hit the edge of the trampoline or fall from it,” she said, “whereas at recreational sports facilities, there are often multiple jumpers, and you’re not falling