Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 10:03 UK

Under-fives trampoline ban call

By Matthew Hill
BBC News

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Nick Bamber says he was jumping between two trampolines when he broke his leg

I recently went through the parental dilemna of do we, or don't we buy a trampoline for the children.

Apart from the cost, I was aware from talking to emergency medicine consultants that they were seeing an increasing number of injuries.

Eventually, we went ahead and took the plunge, but made sure we bought the safety net - and so far our three children, aged 13, 11 and eight, have only had a few minor prangs.

The injuries one is likely to sustain on the trampoline are really at the very severe end of the spectrum of injury that we see
Dr Andrew Newton, casualty doctor

The instructions said only one child at a time, but that soon went right through the window once word got around in the neighbourhood.

But I have just come across a new paper by a casualty consultant from Weston-super-Mare that I hope will give me more ammunition to be strict with the kids.

Dr Andrew Newton says that with more parents buying trampolines, he is seeing an increasing number of children who have been seriously injured.

He said: "The injuries one is likely to sustain on the trampoline are really at the very severe end of the spectrum of injury that we see.

"They are nasty fractures that are likely to require surgery and they are injuries that require protracted periods of time away from other activities."

In fact, around one in six of all serious paediatric broken bone cases with which Dr Newton deals involve trampolines.

He has found the significant risk to children can be reduced with proper safety nets and by making sure children go on the trampoline one at a time.

Dr Newton has studied the cases of 70 children who presented to his department with injuries sustained whilst using a recreational trampoline.

The data was colllected over a period of nine months during 2007, with the youngest child being 18 months old and the oldest 15 years of age.

Almost half (47%) involved another child jumping at the same time.

And a third happened beccause the child fell from a trampoline which was not protected.

Double trouble

Like many 15-year-olds Nick Bamber, from Axbridge in Somerset, enjoys sport and trampolining - but all he can do for the next six weeks is watch others.

"There were two trampolines next to each other and I did a front flip between them," he said.

Dr Andrew Newton
Dr Newton believes there need to be stricter rules on trampoline use

"I just landed badly and broke my leg. It's broken in two places below the knee."

Safety advice varies between different manufacturers. That is why Dr Newton feels a few simple rules would avoid serious injury.

He feels you should always fit a safety net, making sure it is securely fastened and only allow one child at a time.

He also says anyone below five years of age should not be allowed to use a recreational trampoline.

He found 76% of the total patient group was accounted for either by children under the age of five, children who had fallen off an unfenced trampoline or children who had injured themeselves whilst bouncing on a trampoline at the same time as another child.

Dr Newton said: "The greatest risk seems to occur when two children of very different ages are on a trampoline.

"If you have one large child and one small child the risk of injury is significantly increased.

"That is because the force of the bounce the large child generates is going to have a very unpredictable effect on the smaller child and lead to them being thrown in such a way that they are likely to sustain injury."

Of course jumping up and down is very good excercise - so its all a question of minimising risks to gain the greatest benefit.

At least I now have some pretty horrific pictures of broken bones with which to scare the kids.

A spokesman for the industry said all responsible manufacturers included safety guidance with their products.




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