New Research Says Trampoline Park Injuries Are 'Like Getting Hit With a Hammer'


Trampoline parks can be a lifesaver for many parents. It's a place where kids have fun, get some exercise, and burn off excess energy all at the same time, so it's an ideal spot for playdates and birthday parties. But alarming new research is showing why these parks can also be so dangerous for kids.

  • Trampoline parks accounted for almost 18,000 emergency room visits in 2017, and CBS News has confirmed at least six deaths since 2012.

    A Virginia engineer is explaining how the design of trampoline parks -- with many trampolines bound together -- can create an unsafe transfer of energy that makes surfaces unpredictable.

    Pete Pidcoe, who has spent about six years researching the design of trampoline parks, is going public with his findings for the first time. He told CBS News that an entire park can turn into one large, bouncing surface.

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  • ”We found there is energy transferred between trampoline beds," Pidcoe said. "It's really one big trampoline."

    He added that it makes these areas dangerous because it makes "the system unpredictable."

    "The trampoline surface is changing height. Have you ever stepped for a step that isn't there? Picture having that happen on a trampoline," he said. 

    The biomechanical engineer and university professor cites a portion from the video above as an example of how energy transfer works.

  • The excruciating footage, taken at a New Jersey trampoline park, shows a dad “double bouncing” his son, who breaks his femur after falling.

    "Largest bone in your body. It takes about 900 pounds to break it," Pidcoe commented. "Now, he's a child, so say maybe half that."

    In his testing, Pidcoe mimics scenarios where a father would be jumping on a trampoline with a son, measuring how much force a 220-pound person would transfer into a 30-pound person. 

    "What we notice is the father transferring into the son 400 pounds of force, but the bigger number is how fast that force is actually provided," he said.

  • "It's like getting hit with a hammer.”

    Hospital ERs are seeing more kids with injuries from these parks. Utah trauma surgeon Dr. Craig Cook said he has treated about 100 patients with severe trampoline park injuries such as broken legs, spinal fractures, and head trauma.

  • He said these injures mimic those sustained in a catastrophic auto accident.

    "These are the types of injuries that we'd see with high velocity type of trauma motor vehicle crash at 90 miles per hour that rolls or an accident where a patient a victim is thrown off their motorcycle and they fly 100 feet," Cook said.

  • Not unexpectedly, trampoline park owners aren’t entirely on board with the new findings.

    Rob Arnold, CEO of Launch Trampoline Park, thinks the studies are too broad. "Not all trampoline parks are created equal,” he said.

    Arnold admits that a patron did sustain a neck injury at one of his parks, but he said that doesn’t mean there is an inherent danger.

    "It's like somebody putting on a pair of skis and going down a mountain, you know? There's an inherent risk for what you're doing," Arnold said. 

    Pidcoe hopes to publish all of his findings in a sports medical journal sometime in the coming months.

  • In the meantime, he’d like parents to take note of his studies and be aware of the dangers when visiting a trampoline park.

    “Everybody in that system is influencing everybody else's jump,” he cautioned.