A recent study found there were nearly 250,000 trampoline-related injuries in the United States in a five-year period. They included fractured wrists, ankles, elbows and knees. The dangers go beyond broken bones, however. One outspoken mother shares her story and her plea for trampoline safety.

Trampolines look like a fun activity for kids, but Lynn Shimp knows how dangerous trampolines can be. "It killed my son. Killed him," says Lynn, whose son died after complications from a trampoline injury.

The day before Ben Shimp's 18th birthday, he jumped on a trampoline and landed on the net. "He landed on the back of his head, and the force of the impact caused his body to sit up, and when he looked around, I believe that's when the spinal cord was severed."

Ben was paralyzed and later died from his injury. In a home video taken right before Ben's death, he says, "I thought the trampoline was safe. I never thought that if I landed wrong something like this would happen."

George Alan Hahn, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon at Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "Trampoline is really sort of a contact sport or a collision sport, as it tends to be used by children, unsupervised," he says.

Dr. Hahn's observation is supported by a study in this month's Journal Pediatrics. It shows a 98 percent increase in injuries from 1990 to 1995. Ninety-three percent of the injuries were on home trampolines.

Lynn says not a day goes by that she doesn't think about her son, but she hopes his death will raise awareness and save other families from going through the same pain. "I would definitely say you're taking a big risk to have one," she says. "I would definitely recommend staying away from them."

Dr. Hahn says if parents keep a trampoline, they need to follow a few rules. Only one child should be jumping at a time, no liquids on the surface and an adult should always be watching.

If you would like more information, please contact:

American Academy of Pediatrics 1-800-433-9016


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