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Age no barrier to tramp injuries

By Genevieve Helliwell, Teuila Fuatai

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At least 370 injuries relating to trampoline accidents occurred in the Western Bay of Plenty last year.

Figures from ACC show 379 injury claims were accepted for trampoline-related accidents in the Western Bay of Plenty district and Tauranga last year, including more than a dozen claims from people over the age of 70.

In total, trampoline injuries cost the country more than $2 million.

Tauranga Hospital's Emergency Department sees about one patient each week with injuries resulting from a trampoline accident.

Marama Tauranga, nurse manager at the Emergency Department, said common injuries were fractured forearms, wrists and ankles.

"Another injury that we see is a specific fracture called a 'toddlers fracture' - spiral fracture to tibia - which occurs when multiple children are on the trampoline at once and performing 'double bouncing', which usually sends the lightest child flying off the trampoline.

"To avoid injuries on trampolines we suggest that parents set and discuss 'trampoline house rules' with their children," Mrs Tauranga said.

"We also strongly suggest purchasing trampolines with nets or even setting the trampoline into the ground itself, if possible."

Local woman Sarah Neale keeps a close watch on her children when they play on the trampoline, as a result of a life-changing trampoline accident she had when she was a child.

Mrs Neale broke her ankle on her fifth birthday, while bouncing on the trampoline with a friend.

"I never recovered properly and I kept breaking it.

"By the time I was 10, I had broken it six times," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

She had ankle reconstruction surgery when she was 14 but the injury prevented her from playing many sports.

"Even now, I have trouble cycling ... and it still swells up a lot. In the summer it swells because it's hot and in the winter it aches because of the cold.

"It definitely changed my life"

Her two children, aged 6 and 2, are not allowed to bounce on the trampoline together.

"I'm very vigilant, even over the top but I'm not going to change."

Nationally, nearly 8400 injury claims relating to trampolines were accepted by ACC last year - about 160 a week - costing more than $2 million.

A regional breakdown of injury costs was unavailable.

Most of the victims (84 per cent) were children aged 14 and under.

However, Kiwis in their twilight years also joined the trampolining fun - 16 injuries were logged for pensioners aged 70 and over.

An age breakdown showed injury numbers tapered off after the 10-to-14-year age bracket, but experienced a slight resurgence for those aged 35 to 44 over the past five years.

Last year, 103 claims were accepted for people aged 25 to 29. This jumped to 160 claims for those aged 35 to 39, and 144 claims for those aged 40 to 44.

The figures showed trampoline injuries were on the rise, with last year's national claim count the highest in five years.

Jonathan Collins of Springfree Trampoline says children should be supervised at all times on trampolines.

"Broken bones are the most common injury, followed by bruising, sprains, cuts, dislocation and dental injury.

"The one at a time rule is important - a large number of injuries occur when multiple jumpers are on the trampoline and the smaller person is almost always the one injured."

Springfree Trampolines are said to be the world's safest - of the five trampolines tested in Consumer NZ's latest trampoline report, the Springfree was the only one to pass safety tests.

Mr Collins said falls and hitting trampoline frames and springs were the leading cause of injuries.

"While you'd think a net and pads would stop those injuries, studies show they're not doing so."

When purchasing a trampoline, people should look at the quality of the net and ensure pads provided adequate protection.

Consumer NZ has called for mandatory safety standards around trampolines. It also recommended current voluntary standards be updated.

An ACC spokeswoman said it was important to monitor young ones and ensure their play equipment met safety standards.

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- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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