Trampoline Injuries Are Up Among American Kids

ER doctors have started calling them "orthopedic fracture machines"

Trampoline in a backyard
Trampolines: harmless playthings or "orthopedic fracture machines"?
Shaylin Wallace/Unsplash

Last week, we wrote about why this summer is such a crucial period for American children to be up and moving each day. Unhealthy weight gain is a typical summer occurrence for kids — thanks to months of poor diet choices, sleep irregularities and increased access to screens — and as 2020 features an extra-long summer without the structure of camps, researchers are concerned.

But according to recent reports, some kids are moving around a bit too much.

Orthopedic surgeons at children’s hospitals across the country are noticing an uptick in injuries caused by trampolines, scooters, skateboards and inflatable pools. Unsurprisingly, these backyard toys and apparatuses saw a huge sales boost in April and May (a 51-percent increase compared to the same period in 2019), as already desperate parents looked to add some fun to the months ahead. Now, making do without summer leagues, camps or getaways, kids have spent a lot of time using them.

As The New York Times reports, it’s led to an increase in “oddball”-related injuries: broken arms, wrists and elbows from “high-energy falls.” They can happen when kids take local hills on a skateboard at breakneck speed, but they’re most commonly occurring on trampolines, where attempted handstands and rogue trampoline basketball games result in frequent fractures, dislocations and gashes. Emergency room doctors told the Times recently that trampolines are thought of as “orthopedic fracture machines,” and that children come through every single day to undergo surgery for trampoline injuries.

All told, this is actually a “down” year for the emergency room at children’s hospitals. With sports shut down at the youth level, there have been less contact-related injuries. But trampolines have worked hard to pick up the slack regardless. In some ways, there is some beauty in the free-wheeling independence kids might feel this summer. Their parents are navigating tricky, WFH situations, and there aren’t counselors to tell them how to fill every hour of the day. It might leave room for personal growth and imagination too often stifled by a segmented world of playdates and tryouts.

But it’s important to remember that when left completely unchecked, kids have a tendency to land awkwardly on their limbs. And as if this summer weren’t frustrating enough, July and August in a cast would turn it up a notch.

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