Trampoline-related injuries on the rise in Alberta

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. 

The University of Alberta’s Injury Prevention Centre says more than 2,200 Albertans were sent to the emergency room from trampoline-related injuries each year between 2011 and 2014, which accounts for about five per cent of all emergency visits.

The injuries have steadily increased over the last decade, director Don Voaklander said.

“Generally, it’s because kids are left unsupervised on trampolines,” Voaklander told CBC’s Radio Active.

He said there was a lot of bad press toward trampolines in the 1990s. That prompted manufacturers to make them appear safer by putting padding on the spring area and surrounding the trampoline with netting.  But Voaklander said it made parents more complacent, thinking their child was safe with the netting.

Trampolines with padding on the sides and netting have made parents more complacent, Voaklander says. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

“It [also] doesn’t help with multiple people on the trampoline,” Voaklander said, adding the manufacturer’s recommendations are often to only have one person on the trampoline at a time.

“If you just fall the wrong way on a trampoline or the pads, you can hurt yourself quite badly.”

He said the recent surge of trampoline parks can also explain the increase in trampoline-related injuries.

Children aged five to nine years old made up 37 per cent of trampoline-related injuries. Children ages 10 to 14 had the second-highest risk of trampoline-related injury at 27 per cent, and children aged one to four were third at 22 per cent. The majority of the injuries are bone fractures. 

Tips for trampoline safety

For those parents who own a trampoline and don’t want to run the fun for their kids, Voaklander has some tips to reduce the risk of injury.

“If you let your kids use a trampoline, supervise them,” he said. “I cannot emphasize that enough.”

Trampoline parks have surged in popularity, which could partially explain the steady increase in trampoline injuries. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Voaklander said to make sure the trampoline is set up on level ground and away from fences and other things they might fall into.

And even though he recommends kids not jump on trampolines unless they’re involved with and being trained for gymnastics, Voaklander said he wouldn’t call for a ban of trampolines in the city.

“I’m not sure if it’s realistic to expect that there would be one,” he said.

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