Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bounce trampolines, experts advise

Mom joins chorus after daughter breaks her arm at indoor park

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An indoor trampoline park franchise in Winnipeg that opened to much fanfare in August is risky business for kids, say pediatric specialists and a parent whose preteen daughter suffered broken bones.

"I want people to be cautious and aware," said Laurel Baron.

Her daughter, 10-year-old Leah Thorsteinson, broke two bones in her arm on Aug. 30 trying to do a flip at Sky Zone. She landed awkwardly on the trampoline and her body weight broke her arm.

"I heard the snap," said Leah, who went to the Fort Whyte Way park with her dad and younger sister.

Having the rules spelled out, parents signing a waiver and supervision aren't enough, said her mom. "Still, all kinds of accidents can take place." Or worse.

The waiver form adults have to sign before they or their kids can jump at Sky Zone accepts risks for such things as "broken bones, sprained or torn ligaments, paralysis, death or other bodily injury..."

'I want people to be cautious and aware' -- mom Laurel Baron

If there's a risk of serious injury or death, the public should know about it, said Baron.

The school teacher has heard of other kids getting hurt at the trampoline park and wonder if people are aware of the risk and the cost.

"This is costing the health-care system," she said. "As taxpayers, we have to pay the medical bills. They're producing accidents the rest of us have to pay for."

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it hasn't seen a jump in broken bones since the indoor trampoline park opened in August. Its computer system only tracks injuries, not the mechanism of injury, and they aren't monitoring indoor trampoline accidents, a spokeswoman said.

The doctor who treated Leah was aware of the indoor trampoline park and was not a fan, said Baron, who met her daughter at the hospital.

"He said 'This is why I hate trampolines,' " said Baron.

Parents should be aware of the risks, said Dr. Brian Black, who didn't treat Leah but co-authored Orthopedic injuries associated with backyard trampoline use in children a decade before Sky Zone indoor trampoline park opened in Winnipeg.

"We did it because we felt what we perceived to be was an increased number of kids in emergency from backyard trampoline use," said Black.

"It's interesting -- we're still seeing injuries," said the pediatric orthopedic surgeon who has never been to Sky Zone but has heard of it. "I hear kids talk about it in the clinic and have visited their website -- they're doing a fantastic job of marketing this."

Sky Zone's website says trampolining is for everyone from age two to 82: "If you can walk, then you can jump! That's our philosophy at Sky Zone, and that's why we created Toddler Time specifically for the little ones."

Black says the American Academy of Pediatrics advises children under six should not use a trampoline.

"The primary reason is they don't have the necessary strength," and their muscles and bones aren't mature enough, Black said.

"I don't believe in bubble-wrapping (kids) as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, but I do believe in minimizing risks" in any sport or activity.

The Sky Zone risk-assessment manager in the U.S. said trampolining is safer than golf or tennis.

Fewer than one per cent of sports injuries involve trampolining, said Bob Ito, based in St. Louis, Miss. That doesn't mean it's without risk, he said.

"We're very upfront about the ways in which they could be injured, even if everyone does what they're intended to do." In addition to signing "assumption of risk" waivers, cashiers provide instruction and customers watch a safety video indicating the rules, said Ito. "Court monitors" make sure jumpers are following the rules, such as not attempting "anything that you are not capable of."

"If someone violates a rule, they're asked to cease what they're doing and bring the activity back within the rules," said Ito, a former gymnast.

They must be doing something right. There are now 42 Sky Zone franchises in North America and many more to come, he said.

"Any business takes off when it fulfils a need," said Ito. "There's a great need for structured physical activity."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2013 A5

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Updated on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 7:26 AM CDT: adds video

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