Every month, thousands — maybe tens of thousands! — of academic papers are published in journals. From this set, you’ll see coverage in the media of perhaps … six? Maybe eight? It’s not that the rest have no influence. They drive further research, or clinical practice, but in the public we hear about only a small share. Usually coverage goes to the ones that seem like they’d generate the most clicks, because they are scary or surprising (or judgmental).
This is a shame because there are many articles that I think are useful for a broader audience. Here’s one of them.
Trampoline parks: great way to get the sillies out or injury haven? Or both? This paper attempts to quantify the risk from trampoline parks.
The authors use data from 18 trampoline parks operating in Australia and the Middle East between 2017 and 2019. What I like about this paper is they attempt to quantify the risk per hour, so you get a real sense of not just the existence of risk, but the degree. Also, they make an effort to get really granular in the activities — is dodgeball more dangerous than the foam pit? Basically, this paper takes trampoline park injury and gives it the attention it deserves.
The results: They’ve got 13,256 injuries reported in 8.3 million jumper-hours; of these, 11% were significant (meaning needing medical attention — a broken bone, laceration, spinal injury). This amounts to a rate of 1.14 injuries per 1,000 jumper-hours, or 0.11 serious injuries for 1,000 jumper-hours.
How large are these effects? There are a few ways to look at it. One way is to say that if you went to the trampoline park every Saturday for two hours, you would expect an injury about once every nine years, and a serious injury about once every 90 years. The authors of the paper also very helpfully put these numbers in context with other sports. The risks are estimated to be only about 5% as high as the rates estimated for Australian children playing football. Trampoline injury rates are comparable to injury rates from tennis playing.
If you do go to the trampoline park, the graph below shows the injury rate by area. Beware the foam pit and the high-performance areas! Slam-dunking, though, seems fine.