Frankly, it’s easy to see how trampolines might lead to injuries. What’s more surprising is just how many injuries occur. If you’d dismiss trampoline accidents as rare occurrences not worth worrying about, you’d unfortunately be mistaken. Studies have shown that not dozens or hundreds but thousands of people get injured on trampolines every year — and with summertime upon us, we’re moving into peak season for accidents. If your child gets injured on a trampoline in Oklahoma this summer, you may want to talk to an experienced product liability lawyer. Depending on how and why the accident happened, someone could be liable for the medical bills and other expenses resulting from the injury.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Trampoline Accident Statistics
In addition to issuing recalls of defective and dangerous products, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also tracks data on unintentional injuries and fatalities caused by various consumer items and the activities for which they are used. The following data on trampoline injuries is taken from a September 2000 CPSC report on trampoline accidents in the United States:
- Roughly 100,000 people were hospitalized for trampoline injuries in 1999 alone.
- The majority of trampoline injury victims are children.
- Children aged six to 14 are especially vulnerable, with this age group accounting for roughly two-thirds of all trampoline injuries resulting in emergency room treatment. Children younger than six accounted for about 15% of injuries serious enough to need care in the ER.
- While children are usually the victims, adults can also be injured and killed by trampoline accidents. The oldest victim of a fatal trampoline accident in the CPSC’s report was 43.
- Leg injuries and foot injuries are the most common type of trampoline injuries. Together, they are responsible for roughly four in 10 injuries caused by trampolining. Other common injuries included:
The same report showed that trampoline injuries requiring E.R. treatment increased steadily throughout the nineties, climbing from about 37,550 in 1991 to nearly 99,000 by 1999.
Study Shows One-Third of Trampolining Injury Victims Suffer Broken Bones
Unfortunately, this trend hasn’t exactly improved with time. A medical study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics in 2014 estimated that nearly 1 million people were hospitalized due to trampoline accidents between 2002 and 2011: a yearly average of approximately 150,000 injuries.
The Orthopaedics study also found that nearly one-third of the injury victims suffered from bone fractures: roughly 289,000 people or about 29% of the patients. The study found the following types of fractures to be the most common in trampolining injury patients:
- Upper Extremity Fractures — About 60%
- Fractures of the forearm (radius, ulna) — 37%
- Elbow fractures — 19%
- Lower Extremity Fractures — About 36%
- Fractures of the lower leg (fibula, tibia) — 39.5%
- Ankle fractures — 31.5%
- Femur fractures — About 58%
- Fractures to the Axial Skeleton — About 4.5%
- Spinal fractures — About 4% (About 36% cervical/neck, about 25% lumbar/lower back)
- Skull fractures — About 3%
- Rib fractures, sternum fractures — 0.5%
Spinal Cord Injuries, Broken Necks, and Paralysis Caused by Using Trampolines
While severe injuries in their own right, some bone fractures can lead to other health consequences that are more significant than the fracture itself. Cervical fractures (broken necks), which account for more than a third of all fractures to the axial skeleton, are an example. While the damaged bone may heal quickly, a cervical fracture can cause permanent paralysis.
The spine is divided into three sections: the cervical spine (located in the neck), the thoracic spine (located in the mid-back), and the lumbar spine (located in the lower back). A severe cervical spine fracture can damage the “high-cervical” or “low-cervical” nerves, labeled C1 through C4 and C5 through C8. When the high-cervical nerves (C1 through C4) are damaged, the victim’s entire body below the neck can become paralyzed, quadriplegia, or tetraplegia. If the low-cervical nerves (C5 through C8) are damaged, the victim may retain some control over their arms, hands, and bladder but be paralyzed below the waist, called paraplegia.
A broken neck can also be fatal. The CPSC report found that following accidental falls from trampolines, accidentally “landing on the neck while attempting somersaults” was the second leading cause of death.
In a policy statement issued in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly discouraged” the recreational use of trampolines in private settings. Injuries are especially likely to occur when a negligent adult fails to provide adequate supervision or when a trampoline suffers defects, making the product unsafe.