What Pediatricians Say About Whether Trampolines Are Safe for Kids

child's legs jumping on a trampoline
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Are trampolines safe for your backyard? The short answer is "No," at least according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). AAP is the professional organization for pediatricians in the U.S, and it "strongly discourages" use of home trampolines.

The most common trampoline-related injury is a sprained ankle; this isn't severe, but can be painful and will limit kids' participation in sports and other activities. Broken bones and dislocations are also a risk, especially for young children. An AAP data review showed that 29% of injuries in kids ages 6 to 17 were fractures or dislocations. But these accounted for almost half of the injuries among kids 5 and under.

Most worrying are injuries to the head and neck, which make up 10% to 17% percent of all trampoline-related injuries and could result in paralysis or other permanent disability. A 2014 study that reviewed over one million emergency-room visits for trampoline injuries found that 1 in 200 led to "permanent neurologic damage."

How Trampoline Injuries in Kids Commonly Happen

The AAP identifies several common causes of trampoline-related injuries:

  • Multiple simultaneous users: About three-fourths of trampoline injuries happen when multiple people are on the trampoline at the same time. The biggest risk is for little kids jumping with heavier or older children. These smaller participants are up to 14 times more likely to get hurt, according to one 2009 study.
  • Falls from the trampoline: Think safety netting solves this problem? Think again. It does not seem to have a significant effect on the rate of this kind of injury. There isn't enough research available to explain why, but it may be because safety enclosures aren't installed correctly, because kids climb on the netting, and/or because the enclosures can wear out quickly. Warranties for enclosure nets (and padding; see below) are usually shorter than warranties for other parts of the trampoline.
  • Impact with frame and springs: As with nets, it seems that padding around a trampoline's frame and springs do not do enough to prevent injury. Even as the availability and use of padding have gone up, injuries haven't gone down. Again, this might be because padding wears out quickly. 
  • Failed stunts: Failed attempts to flip and somersault while jumping on a trampoline can result in the most devastating injuries because they usually involve the cervical spine. These injuries can cause permanent disability or even death.

Trampoline Safety Rules

If you already have a trampoline, or your kids play on one away from home, insist on these safety guidelines:

  • Only one person can jump at a time.
  • No somersaults or flips.
  • Kids must be constantly, actively supervised by an adult.
  • Homeowners should verify that their insurance policies cover trampoline-related claims.
  • Make sure padding, netting, and the trampoline itself is in good condition and parts are replaced as needed.
  • Trampolines should be set at ground level whenever possible, or on a level surface and in an area cleared of any surrounding hazards.

Are Indoor Trampolines Safe?

The AAP says commercial trampoline parks should follow the same safety guidelines it suggests for home trampolines. These parks are growing more popular, and so are the number of injuries associated with them. And they are often more serious than injuries sustained on home trampolines.

Trampolines are used in training for gymnastics, diving, figure skating, and freestyle skiing. This is the only use of trampolines that the AAP endorses, "as part of a structured training program with appropriate coaching, supervision, and safety measures in place." Such safety measures might include a safety belt or harness.

What about mini-trampolines (also called rebounders), intended to be used by adults for fitness? The AAP still recommends that these not be used at home, only in supervised training programs as noted above.

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Article Sources
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  1. Briskin S, Labotz M. Trampoline safety in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics. 2012;130(4):774-9. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-2082

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness: Trampoline Safety in Childhood and Adolescence. Pediatrics 2012;130(4); reaffirmed July 2015.
  • Kasmire KE, Rogers SC, Sturm JJ, Trampoline park and Home Trampoline InjuriesPediatrics e2016 1236.