Monday, August 27, 2007

Trampolines - jump or dump?

This past weekend, I saw (and read) several reports on the dangers of back yard trampolines. The Canadian Pediatric Society wants a ban on back yard trampolines, saying that there has been a significant increase in injuries, including paralysis because of back injuries. They have issued a joint statement with the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine.

While it’s true, trampoline can be dangerous and there has been in increase in injuries, the trampoline industry points out that thousands more trampolines are being sold and used now than there used to be and that the increase in injuries is merely a reflection of the increased number.

When I was in elementary school, we used a trampoline in gym – I remember having to stand along the sides as the class acted as spotters for the one person on the trampoline. I was not an athletic kid, so the trampoline wasn’t one of my strong points either. It was kind of fun, but if you jumped the wrong way, you could (and did) get hurt.

The manufacturers warn parents not to allow more than one person on the trampoline at a time and, I don’t know about you, but I see this rule broken a lot. On the news the other day, one child told a reporter that she wouldn’t want to go on the trampoline alone because it was boring and you can’t play games then.

So, do we ban them like the doctors want? Or do we accept these injuries as a part of childhood? Personally, I would never have a trampoline in my backyard. I wouldn’t want that responsibility, to me the risk of injuries is just too high. I don’t wrap my kids in bubble-wrap. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about how we have to allow our kids to grow and try things, including activities with some level of risk. But I think that trampolines are just too high risk.

News for Today:
Increase in polycystic ovary syndrome linked to obesity, environment: study
U.S. FDA proposes new labeling for sunscreens
Infection contributes to the high rates of oropharyngeal cancers
Smoking increases risks for head and neck cancers for men and women
EU Approves Roche's Avastin For Lung Cancer Treatment

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Marijke,
I have to confess a conflict of interest in commenting on your "jump or dump" thoughts.

I'm part of the team that is trying to bring "...the world's safest trampoline..." to a backyard near you. In 1991 our Senior Design Engineer, Dr. Keith Alexander from Canterbury University in New Zealand received a fairly similar synopsis from his wife: not in our backyard, not for our kids. But, she took one step further, (probably figuring it would keep her inventive husband out of her hair for the balance of his natural life). She challenged him - " want a trampoline in our backyard, then make a safe one..."

10 years later, in 2001, Keith was issued with US patent #6319174 for what is now sold as the Springfree Trampoline. His design objective was to remove all the traditional "impact zones" that generated the vast majority of "equipment induced" injuries on backyard trampolines.
The product has been in the market for a couple of years now, and its popularity with parents and health professionals is growing strongly. With a population of several 10's of thousands out in the field now, it appears that this design breakthrough is making a statistical difference to backyard trampoline safety.

The "experts" all agree that multi-jumper impact is and will remain a major source of trampoline injury risk. Having said that, our assessment is that removing the springs and frame at the jumping surface (and the need for what are generally under specified and temporally placed safety pads), and replacing steel safety net poles with flexible shock absorbing devices, removes ~83% of the injury risk that kids are exposed to on a traditional trampoline.

That still means kids will collide (cause kids play with kids), but it also means that no one's C4 vertebrate will impact on an unforgiving steel tube at 30m/s velocity.