Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm a first-time grandmother with a concern. How safe are those inflatable houses kids jump in at parties and park functions? In my day, we worried about serious injuries on the trampoline. These contraptions are at least enclosed. But are they safe?

According to researchers at the University of Southern California, injuries are more common than you might expect. They conducted a five-year study of children ages one to 15 treated for inflatable bouncer-related fractures. They found that fractures of the arms and legs were most common. Colliding with another child, falling, or twisting motions were the most likely mechanisms of injury. Boys were injured three times more often than girls. These inflatable houses are padded and enclosed. That makes them appear safer than they are. Records kept by the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that the number of injuries linked with these bouncers is steadily increasing. Not all injuries are reported, so the numbers may be an underestimate of actual cases. The number of cases that are reported are equal to the number of injuries incurred on a trampoline. Most of the time, there was no adult supervision when using the inflatable bouncer. Other risk factors included having too many children jumping at one time and mixing children of different ages. When an older and larger child collides with a younger child, the risk of injury goes up. And falling out of the bouncer is more common than you might think. Other less common causes of injuries occur as a result of wind gusts blowing over a bouncer that's not tied down properly and rapid loss of air inside bouncers that have a slide feature. Most of these problems can be prevented with a little adult supervision. Matching up groups by size is first. Limiting the number of children using the bouncer at the same time is next. The number of children allowed depends on the age, size, and skill level of each group. Awareness of the potential dangers and common sense supervision may be all that are needed to keep this potentially unsafe activity from becoming a real hazard.

Tigran Avoian, MD, et al. Inflatable Bouncer-Related Fractures in Children. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. September 2008. Vol. 28. No. 6. Pp. 656-659.

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