Injuries at trampoline parks have soared in recent years, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Trampoline injuries lead to nearly 100,000 emergency room visits a year, according to estimates from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The majority of the injuries occur at home, and that number didn't increase year to year from 2010 to 2014, researchers found.
But injuries rose significantly at trampoline parks during that time, from 581 in 2010 to 6,932 in 2014.
Patients injured at trampoline parks, which often feature wall-to-wall trampolines, are more likely to be admitted than those injured at home, possibly due to increased liability issues at trampoline parks, researchers said. Lawsuits led to the closure of one park, the study noted.
"The greater the number of parks, the more children are exposed to injuries related to trampolines," said Dr. Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, an emergency medicine physician at Texas Children's Hospital who was not involved with the study.
The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against recreational use of trampolines. Still, trampoline parks' popularity continues to surge, with an average of five or six parks opening per month, the study said.
The majority of injuries at trampoline parks were in the lower extremities, the researchers said; 59% of emergency room admissions were leg fractures.
Injuries at home tended to be to the upper extremities, such as elbow fractures, which made up 34% of admissions, and forearm fractures, which made up 18%.
The differences might be a matter of physics.
"Trampoline parks' ability to reach higher heights is certainly a contributor to more lower extremity injuries because the impact as they're landing can be much greater," Leaming-Van Zandt said.
There are some ways to increase safety for children using trampolines, such as using protective padding, using trampolines without exposed springs, avoiding somersaults and flips, and ensuring that children don't jump all at once. Parent supervision is key, too.
"Don't be lulled into a sense of complacency or a feeling of safety because there are extra people around watching the children," Leaming-Van Zandt said. "It's important that parents keep a close eye on their children."
In a statement responding to the study, the International Association of Trampoline Parks said that more than 50 million people visited trampoline parks in North America in the past year, and "there would naturally be an increase" in the number of injuries reported as the parks gained popularity.
"We believe that the positives of youth recreational sports far outweigh the negatives and we are actively engaged in programs aimed at promoting the safety and well-being of jumpers who visit our member parks," the statement said.