Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine are the first to analyze trampoline fracture patterns in a large population over an extended period of time, providing alarming new data about the rate of injury, especially in children. From 2002 to 2011, an estimated 288,876 people were sent to hospital emergency rooms with broken bones from trampoline accidents. If all injuries are accessed, that number climbs to more than 1 million.
This research, published online in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, draws from a national database. Randall T. Loder, M.D., chair of the IU School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health is the lead author on this study. “There have not been any large-scale studies of these injuries,” Dr. Loder said. “We wanted to document the patterns of injury. This gives us an idea of the magnitude of the problem across the country.”
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collected data from samples of 100 hospitals across the country, was used to collect information for this study. Beginning in 2002, data was retrieved for all trampoline-related injuries during this decade. Around 60 percent of fractures noted were upper-extremity injuries such as fingers, hands, forearms and elbows. Lower-extremity fractures most commonly were breaks in the lower leg and ankles. Fortunately, just over 4 percent involved injury to the axial skeleton, including the spine and head. Regardless of the low percentage, Meagan Sabatino, clinical research coordinator for pediatric orthopedic surgery and study co-author, notes that “those can be catastrophic.”
Average age for total injuries was about 9, but the average age for axial skeleton injuries was substantially higher at 16.6 years old. Dr. Loder says this differential accounts to the higher jumping of older children “with more force” and the fact that teenages are risk takers. “Younger kids may not understand potential outcomes of their actions, but they’re not so much risk takers. Teenagers, they’ll just push the limit,” he said.
Because data was only collected from hospitals, this number is significantly underestimated because some patients likely went to urgent care centers or family physicians for treatments. Costs, estimated at around $1 billion for emergency room bills, are also underestimated, because it does not include costs for any non-emergency room care such as surgery or subsequent physical therapy for injuries.
Researchers endorse more education and better prevention strategies for anyone who is planning on using a trampoline. Citing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons strong suggestion against home trampoline use, Dr. Loder goes even further, saying he’d like to see home trampolines banned. “It’s that simple,” he said. “It’s a significant public health problem.”
The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University
Randall T. Loder, William Schultz, Meagan Sabatino. Fractures From Trampolines. Journal of
Pediatric Orthopaedics, 2014; 1 DOI (subscription required): 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000189