by Eric T. Chaffin

If you wanted to find a trampoline park about a decade ago, you’d have a hard time doing it: there were only about three around at the time. Now, there are roughly 800 such trampoline parks around the country, and though they’ve become popular play areas for both children and adults, they also present a serious risk of injuries.

In a 2016 study published in Pediatrics, researchers found that in 2010, there were 581 emergency department visits for trampoline park injuries (TPIs). Just four years later, in 2014, there were nearly 7,000. Common injuries include fractures and spinal cord injury.

So far, nine states have regulations that apply to trampoline parks, including Utah, which recently passed a new law to make the parks safer. But as a whole, the industry is growing rapidly with little oversight.

Trampoline Park Injuries are on the Rise
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that between 2000 and 2009, there were 22 deaths related to trampolines (in homes and in parks), and in 2012, about 94,900 hospital emergency room-treated injuries. These injuries are typically caused by the following:

» Colliding with another person on the trampoline
» Landing improperly while doing stunts or jumps
» Falling or jumping off the trampoline
» Falling on the trampoline springs or frame

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that while most trampoline injuries occur at home, the number of injuries in parks is rising with the growing number of parks themselves. While the average number of trampoline-related emergency room visits per year remained fairly steady between 2010 and 2014 (about 92,000), park-related injuries shot up from 581 to 6,932. In 2011, about 35-40 parks existed in the U.S., compared to 280 in 2014. There are now over 800, with no sign of the industry slowing down.

AAP has even gone so far as to recommend that pediatricians “actively discourage recreational trampoline use,” noting that trampoline injury rates have been increasing: “Families need to know that many injuries occur on the mat itself, and current data do not appear to demonstrate that netting or padding significantly decrease the risk of injury.”

Trampoline Parks Present More Danger Than Home Trampolines
Trampoline parks may be even more dangerous than home trampolines. In a January 2019 study comparing trampoline-related injuries sustained at commercial jump parks versus home trampolines, researchers found the following results:

» Fractures and dislocations accounted for 55 percent of jump park injuries, versus 44 percent of home trampoline injuries.
» In adults, fractures and dislocations accounted for 45 percent of jump park injuries, versus 17 percent of home trampoline injuries.
» More lower extremity fractures were seen at jump parks, versus home trampolines in both children and adults.
» Adults had a 23 percent surgical rate with jump park injuries, versus a 10 percent surgical rate on home trampolines.

Overall, there were more fractures/dislocations, lower extremity fractures, fractures in adults and surgical interventions associated with jump parks versus home trampolines. Study author Dr. Ryan Voskuil noted that the jump park trampolines have a stronger bounce than home ones and that parks place obstacles around the trampolines to make the experience more exciting. Park trampolines are also interconnected, which can increase the risk of collisions and “double-bounces.”

In March 2019, the Utah governor signed a new bill affecting trampoline parks across the state; it requires the parks to follow safety standards and get an inspection before acquiring a business license. They must also have liability insurance.