As the weather turns warmer, families are eager to get outside for fresh air and exercise. While the escape from the four walls of home is a welcome relief, it’s important to make sure we’re all safe during our outdoor activities.
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Stephen Sundberg, MD, has a long history of treating children who are injured as the result of accidents, especially injuries resulting from time on a trampoline.
Trampolines are not toys
Trampolines were developed in 1945 as a training tool for acrobats and gymnasts – they were never intended to be a recreational toy at home. Younger children are more likely to sustain an injury on a trampoline, with 75% of injuries occurring when more than one child is jumping at a time. Smaller children are 14 times more likely to suffer an injury than a larger child.
“At Gillette we see a significant increase in trampoline related injuries during the summer though the development of indoor trampoline parks has led to trampoline injuries that occur throughout the year.” Sundberg says. “The injuries are potentially very severe and can include head, neck, spine and brain trauma in addition to more typical pediatric fractures.” Between 2011 and 2014 the number of emergency room visits for injuries suffered at indoor trampoline parks has increased over 10 fold. It should be noted, however, that 85% of injuries still happen at home.
Trampoline injuries can be serious
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission there were more than 300,000 medically treated trampoline injuries in 2018. The Consumer Product Safety Review estimated that from 2002 to 2011 more than 1 million people sought emergency treatment due to a trampoline-related accident. The most common trampoline injuries are fractures broken bones, lacerations, and injuries to the head, neck, spine, ribs and sternum.
Sundberg says the best way to prevent a trampoline injury is to avoid them and he cautions there’s little evidence that trampoline nets prevent injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement from 2015 states that home use of trampolines is dangerous for children and should be strongly discouraged.
Gillette pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Daniel Miller, MD, warns trampolines are not the only outdoor danger for children. “This time of year I always like to remind parents that lawnmowers are the leading cause of traumatic amputations (loss of all or part of a limb) for children,” Miller says. “This is a devastating physical injury that’s made worse because often the adult operating the lawnmower is a parent, grandparent or a person close to the child.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website, each year approximately 9,400 children in the United States receive emergency care for lawnmower accidents.
Miller says a good overall policy is to make sure children are never in the yard when a lawnmower is in use. He agrees with the AAP recommendations that children should be at least 12 to use a push lawnmower and 16 to operate a riding lawnmower.
Miller suggests parents learn how to prevent these types of injuries by reading the guidelines on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) websites.
Gillette can help keep summer fun
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare is here to help if a child does sustain an injury. Gillette and Regions Hospital, which are located on the same campus, have a partnership that earned certification as a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centers meet strict requirements and have a specially trained team of health care providers available on-site 24/7 for critically injured children. In addition, Gillette has a team of highly trained orthopedic surgeons who can evaluate a child’s injury and provide any needed care.
With the proper precautions summer can be a fun time to be active and build memories.