Experts warn parents to keep young children off trampolines

Trampoline parks are a popular destination for families with children, but they can also be a risky place to have fun if you have a toddler.

Records from local dispatch centers show dozens of 911 calls for medical treatment made from trampoline parks in our area in the past few years. Doctors say those injuries are likely to be more serious if they involve a young child.

Every jump or trampoline park requires parents to sign a waiver before allowing children to participate in activities. A look through waivers from companies in Raleigh and Durham show the documents outline the risks involved.

One document reads: "I hereby assume all risk of damage, loss, personal injury or death to myself, my spouse and/or my minor child(ren)/ward(s) as a result of the participation in activities in or about the facility..."

Experts, such as Duke pediatric surgeon Dr. Henry Rice, say parents should pay attention to what's in those waivers and take them seriously.

"It is not a trivial risk that parents need to understand before they let their child jump on the trampoline," Dr. Rice said. "Sometimes you'll have broken bones, sometimes you will land on the neck the wrong way and you can have a neck strain."

Research shows the nature of trampoline injuries has changed with the increasing popularity of jump parks. A recent study found more people are injured on home trampolines than at parks, but the injuries at parks are more severe. Ten percent of the injuries from home trampolines required surgery. That number jumps to 23 percent for trampolines at jump parks.

Dr. Rice said the risk for injury is even higher among young children.

"Children under 6 years of age really should not be allowed on a trampoline. Up until the age of 6, kids just don't have the coordination, particularly when they are put in a crowded environment," he said.

Dr. Rice is not alone in his concerns. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advise against allowing children younger than 6 on trampolines.

That advice is not stopping local jump parks from encouraging small children to participate. A review of websites found special "toddler times," "kid jumps," and specially designated areas for young children.

ABC11 reached out multiple times to the companies to ask whether they were aware of the recommendations from medical experts. SkyZone was the only company to respond. The company provided a statement saying " At Sky Zone, the safety of our guests is our top priority and we are committed to ongoing evaluations to promote guest safety for all ages. As with any physical activity or sport, there are inherent risks. We take several measures to reduce these risks and educate our guests about safety in our parks. We invest in best-in-class equipment, conduct daily equipment and area spot checks and post important safety rules and guidelines throughout our parks. Additionally, we station court monitors at all trampoline attractions to help enforce those rules and monitor guest activity. "

Right now, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah are the only states that have formal regulation or inspection rules in place for trampoline parks. Facilities in North Carolina are not regulated or inspected by any local or state authorities.

Troubleshooter Takeaways

If you decide to take a child younger than 6 to a jump park make sure to keep a close eye on them and try to keep them away from other people using the trampolines to help avoid injuries. When it comes to those waivers you have to sign, make sure you understand the rights you are giving up. In addition to outlining injury risks, they also say the parks and the companies that own them cannot be held responsible for any injuries or deaths.
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