Trampoline Truths

The following is an article found on canada.com/nationalpost/news/editorialsletters :

It is the kind of dire warning that those who find danger lurking behind every corner find particularly appealing. We are referring to a press release Monday from the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine about the risks to children who bounce on trampolines. It says that trampolines should not be used as “play equipment in playgrounds, at home or at the cottage.” It follows a similar warning from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Trampoline injuries in Canada requiring hospitalization were up 56% between 1990 and 2001, the release said.

By National PostAugust 22, 2007

 

It is the kind of dire warning that those who find danger lurking behind every corner find particularly appealing. We are referring to a press release Monday from the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine about the risks to children who bounce on trampolines. It says that trampolines should not be used as “play equipment in playgrounds, at home or at the cottage.” It follows a similar warning from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Trampoline injuries in Canada requiring hospitalization were up 56% between 1990 and 2001, the release said.

CBC Radio seized on that single statistic for its 6 p.m. newscast Monday, surely sending a jolt of fear through parents who have a trampoline in their backyard. Other news outlets picked up the story, leaving us all with the same sense of trampoline dread. But the devil is in the details, and the details often get in the way of an alarmist story.

The Canadian Paediatric Society did not conduct a study but collected various reports on trampoline injuries. Its release says “there have been reports of rare, but serious, injuries ?” but no numbers are offered. And even within that vague category, it said the majority of the most serious injuries occur among highly trained athletes during training sessions, not in backyards or playgrounds. Monday’s release also provided a neat little table putting the rate of hospitalization into context: It shows that between 1999 and 2003, 12.4% of trampoline injuries ended up with an admission to a hospital. But it also shows similar rates of admission for bicycling (10.2%), snowboarding (12%) and alpine skiing (12.9%). As far as we know, no one is suggesting closing down ski hills.

The table did not list other activities that might seem unsafe, such as in-line skating, skateboarding or baseball. Baseball? It turns out that America’s pastime can be quite deadly. In Palo Alto, Calif., The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, citing data from the American Academy of Pediatrics, states on their Web site that “baseball has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14, with three or four children dying from baseball injuries each year.” It goes on to say that “although death from sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.” Moreover, sports and recreational activity account for 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and half of those occur during bicycling, skateboarding and skating.

Now, we are not saying to let kids play on the trampoline unsupervised. But if parents are thinking about tossing the trampoline in the trash, they may want to add the skis, baseball gloves and the kids’ bikes as well –just to be safe.