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 strains, sprains, fractures and other injuries — including 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.

If you choose to buy a trampoline despite the risks, follow these important safety rules:

  • Use safety nets and pads. Install a trampoline enclosure — a special net designed to surround the trampoline — and cover the trampoline's frame, springs and surrounding landing surfaces with shock-absorbing pads. Regularly check the equipment for tears, detachments and deterioration.
  • Place the trampoline on level ground. Make sure it's a safe distance from trees and other hazards.
  • Limit trampoline activity. Allow only one person to use the trampoline at a time. Don't allow somersaults or other potentially risky moves on the trampoline.
  • 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.

Jun. 12, 2014