TRAMPOLINE TRAUMA

Atlantic Gymnastics does not condone the use of Backyard Trampolines and needs to caution everyone about using Trampoline Parks. There is a BIG difference between how we we teach trampoline and what is being done at some of these parks.

The following article was from an Indianapolis TV Station.

Bouncing is big business. From gyms to backyards to indoor parks, trampolines are promoted for exercise and fun. But parents and doctors are now issuing an urgent warning about trampolines after startling numbers reveal very small children are suffering very big injuries.

INDIANAPOLIS — When Carrie Clark heard about “Toddler Time” at a local trampoline park, she couldn’t wait to take her 2-year-old son Cooper.

“I thought it was a good activity to get him exercise and maybe wear him out a little before naptime,” Clark told WTHR. “I was a first-time mom. I thought I was just doing something fun with my child.”

The Clarks August visit to Sky Zone in Fishers ended with the blonde-haired toddler in an emergency room with a broken leg.

Instead of fond memories, Cooper returned home with a bright orange toe-to-waist cast that wrapped around his torso. His mom was left with endless questions.

“How could something like that happen?” Clark still asks months later. “I had no clue. And don’t tell me this was just a freak accident. Freak implies it’s uncommon.”

An Eyewitness News investigation finds tens of thousands of kids are seriously hurt on trampolines each year. 13 Investigates’ analysis of nationwide data shows young children are especially at risk, with many of the smallest jumpers suffering the biggest injuries. And those injuries frequently do not happen how you might expect.

Just jumping

“He was just jumping, then he came down and started screaming”

When you think of serious accidents involving a trampoline, you might think of scenarios like the one that paralyzed Austin Dodd. The Fountain County teenager had successfully done hundreds of flips on his backyard trampoline, but it took just one bad landing to change his life forever.

“I did a double front flip and landed on my neck,” Dodd told WTHR as he arrived home in a motorized wheelchair from a month of hospitalization and physical therapy.

“The doctors said he smashed his spinal cord pretty good…so they say he’ll never walk again,” said Dodd’s father, Bruce, who thought padding and a protective net around the outside of the trampoline would help ensure his son’s safety.

The reality is much different. And when it comes to trampolines, 13 Investigates has discovered it doesn’t take a flip — or even a fall — to result in a devastating injury.

“He was just jumping, then he came down and started screaming,” explained Clark, recalling her trip to Sky Zone with Cooper. “I was right there with him, supervising the whole time.”

The Noblesville mom then paused and very slowly re-emphasized the main cause of her astonishment: “He…was…just…jumping.”

Sky Zone posts signs around its facilities to warn participants about risky behavior that can result in injury. Customers are instructed not to push, tackle, run, race, engage in horseplay, double flip, single flip more than two times in a row, land on their head or neck, or to attempt any skill outside of their personal limitations.

“He wasn’t doing any of that!” said Clark. “Jumping. Just jumping with no other kids around him. And he’s two. He can only jump that high,” she added, holding her hand six inches off the floor. “I didn’t see how that could possibly break a leg. How can jumping just a few inches on a trampoline end up in a fractured left femur?”

 

What about gymnastics?
The American Academy of Pediatrics does note an important exception.

It says trampolines at structured gymnastics programs are acceptable because they offer trained coaches who teach kids how to use trampolines safely – something that rarely happens in the backyard or at an indoor park.

“In a training facility like ours, you won’t see children just bouncing off the walls on trampolines. That’s not going to be allowed. We know better,” said Baron DeVeau, director of gymnastics at Geist Sports Academy. “Our biggest concern is making sure that their body is under control on the trampoline, and that is what we teach our students.”

DeVeau, who’s been a gymnast and coach for 37 years, said his training facility begins teaching gymnastics to children as young as 18 months old at a program designed for toddlers and parents; both receive instruction on the trampoline.

“It helps them learn balance and it’s definitely useful,” he said.

At local trampoline parks, 13 Investigates observed parents signing release waivers prior to participating in Toddler Time and adult employees were monitoring jumping areas, but neither parents nor their children received any instruction or training in safe jumping.

“If a child hasn’t learned the basics of bouncing and controlling their bounce, that’s when you get a free-for-all and a high level of risk,” DeVeau said.

USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States, agrees.

“Use of trampolines requires appropriate and careful supervision, competent instruction, and proper equipment and safety measures, in an environment where these requirements can be met,” the organization said in a statement sent to WTHR. “In gymnastics clubs, coaches use a variety of teaching tools – a bungee system, rope/belt harness, pit training, etc. – and follow the accepted skill progression, which means an athlete does not do a skill until he/she has mastered the appropriate progression of easier and preliminary skills.”

USA Gymnastics-sanctioned gyms contacted by Eyewitness News say, as a result of the training policies, they have had virtually no serious injuries on their trampolines in the past three years.

The same cannot be said for local trampoline parks.

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