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Are trampolines safe?
Preg.: My kids (ages 10, 7 and 5) have been begging me to buy a trampoline for our backyard. Are they safe? Is there any difference between the big trampolines and the small ones in terms of safety?
Jamie Huntsville
Resp.: Jamie, it's great that your children enjoy physical activity – and it's wise that you are checking out safety issues before buying a trampoline.

Although many children enjoy bouncing on trampolines, they can be very dangerous. In the United States, approximately 75,000 people are injured on trampolines each year, double the rate from a decade ago. Over 90 percent of the injuries are on home trampolines, and two-thirds of those injured are children ages 6 to 14. Most of the injuries result from trying stunts, colliding with another person, landing wrong when jumping, landing on the springs or frame of the trampoline or jumping or falling off the trampoline onto the ground.

Although many of the common injuries are minor (cuts, bruises and sprains), many children are seriously injured with broken arms and legs, concussions and other head injuries, and neck and spinal cord injuries that can leave them paralyzed or even result in death.

A recent study found that mini-trampolines are also unsafe. Although the injuries on small trampolines tended to be less serious than on large trampolines, they were just as frequent. The most common injuries were cuts on the head.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that trampolines should only be used under the supervision of a professional trained in trampoline safety and only in a training program for gymnastics, diving or other competitive sports. They recommend that trampolines never be used at home, in school gym classes or on playgrounds.

If your children want to play on a trampoline, sign them up for a formal gymnastics class at your local recreation center, YMCA or gymnastics club.