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Bouncers Beware: Backyard Trampoline Injuries Increase.

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WebMD Health News

Sept. 29, 2000 -- The nursery rhyme goes: "called the doctor and the doctor said, 'no more jumping on that bed.'" And now the doctors are saying no more jumping on the backyard trampolines, either.

In May 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised a policy stating trampolines should not be used at home either indoors or outdoors. "The policy goes on to recommend that trampolines should not be part of routine physical education classes in schools, and that the trampoline has no place in outdoor playgrounds and should never be regarded as play equipment," the strongly worded press release states.

Despite this policy statement, trampoline injuries continue to bounce upwards.

Consider: According to the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), 246,875 medically treated trampoline injuries occur annually in the U.S. Of this total, 186,405 of these injuries occurred among children aged 14 or younger. These numbers, John Sarwark, MD, says, had decreased 10 to 20 years ago and are now back up with the popularity of the backyard trampolines.

Parents need to know, says Sarwark, who is an attending physician at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a fellow of the AAOS, that this equipment is dangerous. He tells WebMD even "the casual use of an above-ground or even level-ground trampoline in a recreational setting for children is really not recommended."

The AAOS recently issued a set of guidelines for parents and physicians to follow regarding the use of trampolines. Primarily, the organization recommends that they be used only for physical education, competitive gymnastics, diving training, and other activities where there is adult supervision and proper safety measures in place. The trampolines should not be used for unsupervised play.

Most of the injuries that occur are sprains, strains, and fractures that are the consequences of a fall through the trampoline, hitting the sides, or the ground, or from an uncontrolled maneuver. "But severe injuries, including neck fractures, skull fractures and head injuries, and major bone fractures, are known to occur," Sarwark says.

It wasn't rocket science to Nancy Baron, a 44-year-old writer and editor in Holliston, Mass. When she saw the popular trampolines dotting the backyard of her neighborhood, she laid down the law to her children George, age 5, and Byron, age two-and-a-half, that they were not to play on them. As a teenager at a gymnastics camp, Baron saw a girl fall from the parallel bars, sustaining injuries that left her a quadriplegic. This memory, and the logic that in an unsupervised setting the trampolines could pose an even greater risk, makes Baron unwilling to take chances with her own children.

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