Jess Warren discovers some frightening facts about trampolines. Photo by Jonny Edbrooke.

Children and injuries often come hand in hand. Every child is bound to fall over or hurt themselves as they grow up, it’s an instrumental part of learning and developing a sense of awareness to the world around you.

Trips, scuffs and bruises are an inevitable part of childhood, unless you’re planning on surrounding your child in bubble wrap. These kinds of minor injuries can be patched up with a plaster and cuddle from a parent, but there are some more serious injuries that can be avoided altogether with a bit of sensibility.

Head Bangers

Bouncing up and down on a trampoline whilst on holiday, Theo, son of Jonny Edbrooke Director of AsiaLIFE, and his older and bigger friend mistimed their jumps. As his friend came down, Theo was hurled into the air, and his head was launched into the other child’s teeth.  Gallons of blood and a quick trip to the emergency department ensued. In the hospital waiting room, Theo and his parents noticed a video warning of the dangers of trampolines.

Perhaps if the video had been seen before Theo and his friend were on the trampoline, their collision could have been avoided. But life doesn’t always work as smoothly as that.

Dr Jonathan Halevy, the medical director for the pediatric division at Family Medical Practice Ho Chi Minh City, says trampolines can be more dangerous than we realise.

Call for Ban

Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against the use of trampolines, at home or in parks, since they can cause serious injuries, he says. The American Medical Association is also in agreement, and believes that children should not use backyard trampolines, and the sale of trampolines for private recreational use should be stopped.“The use of trampolines can end up in injuries such as sprains, fractures of limbs, teeth and facial bones and even in serious head and spine injuries,” Dr Halevy says.

“A study published in 2016 found that injuries from trampoline parks are on the rise, since they have become so much more popular.“The study found that patients are more likely to be male and the most severe injuries occur in children on average age of 13. It’s not surprising as this age group often try more dangerous jumps and flips, and tend to be more aggressive when sharing a trampoline with friends.”

Safety Equipment

Evidently Theo’s injury is not uncommon among children using trampolines. Dr Halevy said if a parent still decides to allow their child to use a trampoline, they need to make sure the child wears adequate protective gear, including a helmet.

Further injuries can be avoided by making sure that the trampoline is secure, with a safety net and pads and that the trampoline is level with the ground level in case jumps are more horizontal than vertical.However, a study published by the American Medical Association in 1998 found that prevention strategies such as warning labels, public education, and adult supervision were inadequate to prevent trampoline-based injuries, as most of them occur in backyards, with adult supervision.

The main cause of injury in Theo’s case was the two friends bouncing on the trampoline at the same time. To avoid collision-based injuries, it is best to keep the trampoline to one child at a time.

Playgrounds are often another place where injuries occur. While it would be ridiculous to never let your child play on the swings or monkey bars, there are things you can do as parents to ensure your children are as safe as possible in these situations.

Danger Danger Everywhere

The US Department of Health and Human Services states that the most common injuries occur on monkey bars and climbing equipment in public playgrounds. Among those that are injured, children aged five to nine have the highest rates of visits to the emergency department. As a parent, there are a few things you can do without stopping the fun altogether. For equipment, such as monkey bars, checking that there is a soft material underneath such as wood chips, sand, or mulch to cushion your child if they fall. After all, monkey bars are a challenge to hold onto.

Another step is to read the signs on playground equipment, as they often state which ages it is designed for. It is best to let your child enjoy themselves on activities designed for their age, height or weight rather than put them at risk of injury by climbing up something much more difficult than their abilities can handle.

The US Department of Health and Human Services states that well-maintained playgrounds pose fewer risks to children, as they won’t have rusty or broken equipment. Checking that there are guardrails in good condition, and not rusting away, can also help to prevent falls.

While a grazed knee isn’t the end of the world, looking out for tree stumps, rocks or uneven surfaces that could pose a trip hazard, and pointing them out to your child can help. This makes your child more aware of their surroundings, and can provide you with peace of mind as they run around the park.

Hydration

When playing outdoors in high temperature, as is often the case here in Ho Chi Minh City, heat-related injuries or illness can occur. To mitigate this make sure your child stays hydrated, and is effectively covered from the sun during peak-times. This will help ensure they are less likely to suffer the effects of heat exhaustion.