Summer vacation means kids are out of school for a few months, which means they are more active and more at risk of spinal cord injuries and other ailments. Naturally, the downtime leads parents to hunt for activities and camps to keep their kids busy. One children’s activity that appears to be growing in popularity is trampoline parks, which have come under fire for a number of personal injury lawsuits in Washington State in the past few months.
What is a Trampoline Park?
In 2011, a USA Today article highlighted the rapid growth of indoor trampoline parks in the amusement park industry. As of that article, there were approximately 50 actively operating throughout the country and the industry’s revenue was nearing $100 million.
Despite the profitable success of the industry as a whole, the physical risk of injury that is associated with providing small children the opportunity to launch themselves several feet above the ground for hours at a time should go without saying.
Experts and proponents of child safety are, understandably, adamant in warning the public about the dangers of these parks, which includes the risk of life-changing spinal cord injuries and head traumas to children.
“We do not recommend recreational use of trampolines, as sad as that may be,” says Jenifer Weiss of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Surge in Spinal Cord Injuries, Among Others
As of July 2012, approximately 18 families in the Seattle area have filed negligence claims against the Sky High Sports company, which has a trampoline park located in Bellevue. CNN reports that 10 of the personal injury claims – which include a multitude of head and spinal cord injuries – against the company have been filed since 2010, indicating that there has been an increase in injuries at the park.
“It’s devastating to see your child go from being a vibrant athlete – laughing, playing, running and jumping – to sitting on a sofa feeling down and gloomy because he can’t do the things he should be doing,” says Christina Flygare, whose 17-year-old son suffered spinal cord injuries at the company’s Bellevue location in April.
Flygare’s son, who is set to begin his senior year of high school in September, is spending his summer rehabilitating from the spinal cord injuries he sustained at Sky High Sports. He is still working to regain his fine motor skills, such as eating and writing, and has mostly been physically dependent on his mother since the incident in April.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 92,159 trampoline-related injuries treated by emergency room personnel in the United States in 2010. Though this gives an accurate depiction of the potential dangers of trampolines themselves, there is no indication to how many of these injuries occurred at home compared to at an actual trampoline park. The CPSC also noted that a majority of all injuries resulted from collisions between participants, landing improperly on the trampoline or falling onto the frame.
“I want the word out there so every parent knows the risk,” Flygare said. “No parent should have to go through what we’re going through.”