Parents, doctors question safety at trampoline parks

Kids love them. Doctors hate them. And state regulators basically ignore them.


Kids love them. Doctors hate them. And state regulators basically ignore them.

Regardless of where you stand, indoor trampoline parks are drawing thousands of kids each weekend.

In North Texas, there have been several serious injuries at these parks. For parents, the question is: Are your kids safe?

De'Ja Epps went to Jump Street in Plano on a field trip. As the 11-year-old raced a friend down a narrow trampoline, she fell.

"When I got to the end of the trampoline, my left leg went one way, and my right leg turned the other way," she said.

De'Ja broke her leg in two places, requiring staples and a cast. Her mother, Eurica Epps, questions whether there's enough supervision.

"They might need to have more people around in the area that are watching or parental guiding," she said.

There's also concern about mixing adults or older kids with younger, smaller children.

Last November in San Antonio, a man who weighs more than 200 pounds fell on 12-year-old Kim Bosquez at the Amazing Jump trampoline park, breaking her legs.

Noelle McFarland wonders why adults and kids are playing in the same place.

"We've got 14-year-olds here who are big boys,” she said. “And if they were mixed with some of these taller children, there's some concern to it."

In Arizona, 30-year-old Ty Thommasson died after he fell at an indoor trampoline park in February, 2012 and broke his neck in five places.

According to city records, the Plano Fire Department responded to 15 emergency calls at the Jump Street facility since 2011.

Officials with the Colorado-based company would not talk with WFAA on-camera. They said their corporate policy won't allow interviews or video.

Paramedics responded to 12 injury accidents at Jump Street's other three North Texas Locations in Dallas, Allen and Colleyville.

There have been three emergency responses to Altitude in Fort Worth.

How do these figures compare with a city recreation center? Plano paramedics responded to 15 emergency calls at the popular Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center over the last two years.

“Injuries are very uncommon here," said Victoria Ripple, the manager of Cosmic Jump in Lewisville.

Ambulances responded to five calls at the Lewisville location and two at the company's Allen park. The owner said they enhance safety by placing trained "jump guards" at every station. Kids under 7 have their own special area to play.

"Injuries are consistent with sports such as cheerleading, gymnastics and tumbling,” Ripple said. “But it's a much smaller scale, and the incidences are quite less than even backyard trampolines because it's such a controlled environment here."

Emergency room pediatrician Dr. Geetanjali Srivastava says the growing number of trampoline park-related injuries treated at Children's Medical Center is a disturbing trend.

"When you're doing flips and you land the wrong way, you can either hyper-flex your neck or hyper-extend, and that causes injury to your spine," she said.

Trampoline parks are not regulated by any state or federal agency. In fact, an industry association leaves it up to individual park owners to establish their own rules and regulations.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges pediatricians to counsel their patients and families against recreational trampoline use.

"There will be a time we will not have them, because I think this is the beginning and we're going to see an epidemic of injuries that are severe," Dr. Srivastava said.

Trampoline parks require customers to sign liability waivers, but that hasn't stopped dozens of families across the country from filing lawsuits. Some of those cases have been settled by insurance companies.

"It's not like they're any more likely to get hurt here than they are at our pool playing chicken fights,” said Noelle McFarland, a mom who brought her kids to Cosmic Jump in Allen.

De'Ja Epps said she still wants to go back to a trampoline park — but not for a few years.

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