Straight, No Chaser: Emergency Room Adventures – Trampoline Trauma

So I’m back in the emergency room with a little girl who looks like her forearm is going to fall off the rest of her upper extremity.
People love trampolines. Yet somehow the only time I seem to hear the word trampoline is when someone’s been hurt. I’m not the only one who’d vaporize them on site. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that trampolines never be used at home or in outdoor playgrounds because these injuries include head and neck contusions, fractures, strains and sprains, among other injuries.

So my patient had a (posteriorly) dislocated elbow, meaning she fell off the trampoline, landing on the back of the extended upper arm, pushing the upper arm bone (the humerus) in front of the elbow and forearm. This is how that looks.


So for the joy of bouncing on a trampoline, the child had to be put asleep so the elbow could be replaced into the appropriate position. This procedure is fraught with potential for complications, including a broken bone on the way back, as well as damage to the local nerves and arteries (brachial artery, median and ulnar nerves), which can become entrapped during the effort to relocate the bone into the elbow joint. Some limitation in fully bending the arm up and down (flexion and extension) is common after a dislocation, especially if prompt orthopedic and physical therapy follow-up isn’t obtained. This really is a high price to pay for the privilege of bouncing up and down.
So if you’re going to allow your kids to play on a trampoline, here are two tips shown to reduce injuries.

  • Find one of those nets that enclose the trampoline, and make sure the frame and hooks are completely covered with padding. This is meant to protect against getting impaled, scratched or thrown from the trampoline.
  • Keep the trampoline away from anything else, including trees and rocks. This works even better if the trampoline is enclosed as previously mentioned.

Think back to the little girl I had to care for and consider whether this predictable event (complete with the mental stress of being in a loud emergency room in pain, getting an IV started and being put to sleep) was worth the effort. As per routine, an ounce of prevention…
I welcome your questions or comments.
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0 thoughts on “Straight, No Chaser: Emergency Room Adventures – Trampoline Trauma

  1. Man I felt sorry for the kid for having her elbow dislocated. I too have a trampoline at home but I always remind my kids about the safety and I installed the safety enclosure just to be sure. It’s all fun until someone gets hurt. That’s the downside of trampolines.

    1. Hi, hanz90. At least you understand the risks and are taking preventative measures. That makes you an educated consumer. Thanks for your comment, and thank you for following Straight, No Chaser.