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Health experts: Dangers of trampolines underestimated

June 26, 1998
Web posted at: 2:37 p.m. EDT (1837 GMT)

(CNN) Kids playing on trampolines- it looks so innocent. So what's to worry about? Here's a mental checklist: Is there adult supervision? Is there more than one person on the trampoline? Are any of its springs exposed? How sturdy is it? Of course, none of this matters to children - they just care that it's fun.

"You can jump higher than you usually do on the ground. Because you can do flips and stuff."

But trampolines can be dangerous.

"I did a flip and hit right here, hit the side of the trampoline and I jumped one time and accidentally fell off into some bushes."

For most kids, that's no deterrent. But, health experts say parents should be concerned. A study published in the journal "Pediatrics" shows the number of trampoline injuries doubled during a six-year period, resulting in more than sixty-thousand visits each year to hospital emergency rooms.

"Unlike other products, the number of injuries due to trampolines is doubling over a very short period of time. That's a dramatic increase and unlike other consumer products," says Dr. Gary Smith of Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Almost all of the injuries occurred on backyard trampolines. The inuries were usually sprains, strains or fractures. Younger children tended to hurt their arms, older children their legs. But some of the injuries were much more serious. There have been six deaths since 1990.

Fifteen-year-old Dane Bruner knows the danger. He broke his leg while jumping on a trampoline with his friend Michael.

"I went up and he came down, the trampoline was just like concrete. He landed and I looked down and his face was as white as a ghost and I was just filled with terror you know, it just scared me to death and I looked down and his foot was sideways and I just took off running."

As a result the rules at Dane's house have changed.

"The big rule before was take your shoes off before you get on the trampoline, now it's we don't care about the shoes, only one person at a time on the trampoline."

New recommendations on safety

In fact, the study shows 75 percent of the injuries happened when more than one person was on a trampoline. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is asking the industry to put that statistic on its warning labels.

"CPSC [also] recommends that kids under the age of 6 should never be allowed on a trampoline, period. We're also telling the industry they need to make sure that the shock absorbing pads are put on the springs all the way around the trampoline," says the CPSC's Russ Rader.

The American Society for Testing and Material told CNN it plans to vote on the recommendations soon. But Dr. Smith goes a step further. He says trampolines should not be used for play at all -- only for supervised training in gymnastics.

"My advice to parents is, if you're considering buying a trampoline: don't. If you have one, get rid of it."

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