Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

We are thinking about renting one of those inflatable bouncers for our eight-year-old daughter's birthday. The kids can burn off some of their excess energy and then have a sleepover inside the house. Is there any thing special we should know about these devices? Any problems with injuries?

There isn't a lot of information available on the safe use of these devices. The manufacturer provides standard warnings about maintaining proper inflation levels and the need for adult supervision. But inflatable bouncers are not subject to any safety regulations. Device failures, accidents, and injuries do not have to be reported in most states. A recent study from the University of Southern California may be the first to offer any data to help guide the use of these toys. They reviewed all emergency department visits for children from birth to 17 years of age. Forty-nine cases were identified as bouncer-related injuries. Fractures of the arms and legs were most common. Injuries occurred when children of different ages and sizes crashed into each other. Boys were three times more likely to get hurt than girls. Smaller children were at greater risk of falling out of the bouncer without colliding with someone else. Sometimes the force was enough to throw the child out of the bouncer. Landing on a hard object caused a bone fracture or other soft tissue injury. Sometimes the inflatable device lost air and collapsed. The sudden loss of support caused injuries as well. Slipping and getting the leg trapped in a twisted position was a typical pattern of leg injury. Whether or not this could happen when sleeping in the device was not tested or reported. The authors suggest (based on their findings) that there are ways to prevent injuries. Adult supervision is important. Keep children of similar ages and sizes in groups. Parents and other adults must be on hand to provide guidance and supervision at all times. Only small groups should be allowed inside at one time. Rough-housing and deliberate pushing or bumping into one another must be limited. The bouncer must be inflated to the recommended pounds per square inch at all times.

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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