Utah and California Crack Down on Indoor Trampoline Facilities After Reports of Personal Injury
After hearing reports about serious personal injury, including deep gashes and paralysis, authorities in Utah and California are discussing how to better regulate a new and hugely-popular sports phenomenon – indoor trampoline gyms.
Some doctors and injured patients have reported that the gyms are not regulated well enough to prevent serious personal injury. In Utah, hospitals have reported broken necks, shattered leg bones, and even one death, simply because the patients jumped on trampolines in these recreational facilities.
The incredibly popular trampoline parks are a new and mostly suburban phenomenon, in which giant buildings (usually warehouses) are filled with huge trampolines that allow customers to bounce everywhere, slam-dunk basketballs, and perform acrobatic moves like flips and high-kicks. As a safety measure, some of these parks feature trampolines that slope up at the sides, and pits filled with foam blocks. The gyms also post staffers throughout the facility like lifeguards, to enforce jumping rules and assist those in distress. Gyms also require that customers sign a waiver before entering the facility.
Utah emergency room doctors say that the precautions are not enough to prevent serious personal injury, however.
“You’ll see a lot of these very severe, open wounds that you don’t see unless you’re in a high-velocity type of injury,” Dr. Craig Cook, trauma director at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. “This is like a war type of injury or a motor vehicle crash.”
Trauma staff members at the hospital say that between May 2011 and November 2012, they treated 52 serious personal injuries that required multiple doctors’ visits. The injuries occurred at area trampoline gyms.
The Utah County Health Board is considering proposals to help prevent some of the worst personal injuries, including mandatory supervision of activities, and that the gyms must report their injury rates, and disclose jumping risks to customers beyond just signing a waiver.
“We do feel like we have an obligation to inform the public about safety risks out there, especially when it’s just open to general public,” said Dr. Joseph Miner, executive director of the Utah County Health Department.
Utah is not the only state worried about the trampoline gyms’ rates of personal injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics discouraged the use of the gyms, after a report found that 160 injuries occurred for every 10,000 children aged 5-14 who used the gyms in 2009 alone.
California has legislation pending that would create an inspection program for the trampoline facilities that is similar to that of amusement parks, and would also require the gyms to have insurance, employee training, and injury reporting.
“We try to make sure that people understand what this activity is all about and that the risks are there just like any other recreational activities,” Get Air Hang Time owner Aaron Cobabe said. His gym has signs warning of the rules and the risks of jumping, and also requires customers to watch a safety video on top of signing a waiver.
Despite his best efforts, however, Cobabe’s gym has still seen its fair share of serious personal injury. Between July 2012 and July 2013, Get Air saw 150,000 customers, but also had 11 major personal injuries requiring multiple doctors’ visits.
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