"Non-traditional" soft-edge trampoline design can reduce injuries by 30 to 80 per cent according to a new study led by UTS play equipment safety expert Associate Professor David Eager.
Published in this month's Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, the study examines data from trampolines specifically designed to prevent injury compared with the results of an earlier study of traditional trampolines fitted with pads and netting enclosures.
"These findings are the first to clearly demonstrate that it is possible through good engineering to design a trampoline that significantly reduces the magnitude and severity of trampoline-related injuries," Associate Professor Eager said.
"It is vital for all parents to understand that 'traditional' trampolines fitted with pads and netting enclosures do not necessarily provide a safer jumping surface, however soft-edge spring-free designs do, and they could help save thousands of children from ending up in emergency rooms with injuries from these backyard favourites.
"In Australia trampolines contribute approximately one quarter of all childhood play equipment injuries."
The research team undertook a survey in Queensland and New South Wales using a customer database provided by non-traditional trampoline manufacturer Springfree Trampoline.
Injury data were gathered in a pilot study by phone interview, then in a full study through an email survey. Results from 3817 respondents were compared with earlier Australian and US data from traditional trampolines gathered from emergency departments.
Associate Professor Eager and his team found that soft-edge trampoline designs significantly reduced two of the five main causes of trampoline injuries: falling off, and impact with the frame, springs or equipment. The other main causes of injury include multiple jumpers, hurting one's self, and getting on or off, all of which can only be controlled by the user's actions.
"In Australia 83 per cent of trampoline injures are caused by children falling off the equipment or coming into contact with the frame and springs, and these kinds of injuries are over represented in the most severe categories, such as spinal and head injuries," Associate Professor Eager said.
"Further regulations and standards to ensure injury prevention on trampolines are needed, as current safety standards in Australia and the US do not prevent the sale of dangerous products or their use by children."
The paper, "Survey of injury sources for a trampoline with equipment hazards designed out", was prepared by Associate Professor Eager with Dr Carl Scarrott and Associate Professor Keith Alexander from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and Associate Professor Jim Nixon from the University of Queensland.
To learn more about the study, visit the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health online.