My 7-year-old is begging for a backyard trampoline, but I'm concerned that she could hurt herself while jumping. Am I worried for nothing?

Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.

Your worries about trampoline jumping are justified.

Trampoline jumping poses a high risk of injury for children. The activity can result in sprains and fractures in the arms or legs — as well as potentially serious head and neck injuries. The risk of injury is so high that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages the use of trampolines at home. Trampoline park injuries also are an area of emerging concern.

If you allow your child to use a trampoline, follow these important safety rules:

  • Use safety nets and pads. For home trampolines, install a trampoline enclosure — a special net designed to surround the trampoline — and cover the trampoline's frame, springs and surrounding landing surfaces with protective pads. Regularly check the equipment for tears, detachments and deterioration.
  • Place home trampolines at ground level. A fall from a higher surface increases the risk of injury. Make sure the trampoline is set a safe distance from trees and other hazards.
  • Limit trampoline activity. Don't allow a child younger than age 6 years to use the trampoline. Allow only one person to use the trampoline at a time. Don't allow somersaults or other potentially risky moves on the trampoline without supervision and instruction.
  • Don't allow unsupervised jumping. If you use a trampoline ladder, always remove it after use to prevent unsupervised access by children.

In addition, check to see if your insurance provider covers trampoline-related claims.

June 27, 2017