Summer Safety: Trampoline Dangers

Across the country trampolines dot families' backyards. Some estimates say 6 million homes have trampolines.

But doctors say the apparatus is never safe at home, and a new study said there was an average of 88,000 injuries a year from 2000 to 2005, according to researchers at Rhode Island Hospital. Manufacturers, however, said the dangers are overblown.

The study compared the data from 2000 through 2005 to a study from 1990 through 1995, when there was a total of 41,600 emergency-room visits annually.

A 32-year-old woman in Colorado and a little boy in Houston died earlier this year in trampoline accidents. But trampolines remain very popular, and the industry estimates about 23 million people use them in the United States.

In 2005, Wanda Johnson's 14-year-old son, Russ, was injured when his ankle shattered into 36 pieces.

"I wish I could rewind it and get him off the trampoline before this happened, but I can't," said Wanda Johnson.

"It was a real solid pain, like, constant," Russ Johnson said at the time. "And it hurt real bad. And my leg was swelling up real fast."

Doctors say many parents don't realize the risks until it's too late.

"I think parents just don't know the risks of purchasing a trampoline and installing it at their home," said Dr. Michael Mello.

Physicians said the most common injuries are bruises and cuts, but about 30 percent are bone breaks and dislocations. That's a big reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics said home trampolining should be eliminated.

And it has been saying it for almost 30 years. The pediatricians don't even like trampolining as a competitive sport, let alone a backyard pastime.

In a letter, the Trampoline Industry Trade group called the latest study unfair, unreasonable and excessive. It said federal figures show trampoline injuries are well behind many injuries from other activities, including basketball, cycling and skateboarding, and no one suggests banning them.

The industry suggested the increase in injuries resulted after a boom in sales.

Ironically, trampoline foes agree with the sales trends, but they don't know why parents aren't listening to the doctors.

"Parents should never buy a trampoline or allow children to use a home trampoline," Mello said.

Doctors said even extra safety gear and adult supervision aren't enough to make trampolines safe, and one of the worst things is when kids play together. More than one kid on a trampoline increases the odds of injury because it becomes a lot easier for a child to lose his balance.