Trampoline sales and injuries bounding skyward

CHICAGO (AP) — Trampoline injuries to children are soaring and most of the accidents happen at home, according to a study issued Monday. A manufacturer said trampolines are safer than bicycles.
Children suffered 58,400 trampoline injuries in 1995, almost twice as many as six years before, a report in the March issue of Pediatrics said. Ninety-three percent of the injuries took place at home, it said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warned about the dangers of trampolines in 1977 and issued a statement in 1981 saying that it is never appropriate to use them in homes or recreationally, said the report’s author, Dr. Gary A. Smith.
“Trampolines were designed as training devices, and they were never intended to be used as backyard toys,” said Smith, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
He said parents “think … if they supervise their children, follow the safety directions, that these things can be safely used in the back yard. And that is a myth.”
A spokesman for the nation’s largest trampoline manufacturer said sales of the devices rose fivefold nationwide during the study period, and that the findings attest more to the increasingly safe use of trampolines than to their dangers.
“You’re several times more likely to wind up in the hospital from riding a bicycle than from bouncing on a trampoline,” said Bud Nichols, general manager of Jumpking Inc., based in Garland, Texas.
A study done by Failure Analysis Associates Inc. shows the risk of an injury requiring hospitalization from riding a bike is triple that of using a trampoline.
About 1,400 injuries per year — 3.3 percent — resulted in hospital admission, the study found. The data did not indicate how many spinal-cord injuries or disabilities occurred, Smith said.
An average of one child a year dies from a trampoline-related injury, according to figures kept by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, on which the study was based, he said. However, there is no requirement to report trampoline deaths, he said.
The study covered the years 1990 through 1995, when trampoline-related injuries suffered by children up to age 19 rose from 29,600 to 58,400. The increase continued in 1996, though that year’s data were not available in time to include in the report, Smith said.