Trampoline parks grow, so do injuries

National/World

The number of trampoline parks has grown to more than a thousand around the world. But in this country, they all operate without any federal oversight.

Injuries are on the rise and CBS News has confirmed, in the last seven years, at least six people have died at the trampoline parks.

On most weekends trampoline parks are at capacity with hundreds of kids bouncing, jumping into pits, and playing tag. Their popularity is leading to new cases for attorneys like David Chazen. He represents more than a dozen people injured at trampoline parks in new jersey.

A video shows a father unknowingly causing what’s known as a “double bounce.” His four-year-old-son falls to the mat.

“The force of the trampoline coming up after the Father’s hop across broke the four-year-old’s femur,” says David Chazen.

It takes almost a full minute before anyone, including the guard on duty, realizes the child is squirming in pain.

Since 2011, former gymnastics coach, Don McPherson, has been an expert witness in more than 200 plaintiff cases against trampoline parks.  He says the injuries they can cause are life altering.

“Broken necks, broken backs, dislocated and open fractured elbows, shoulders,” says Don, “They’re all catastrophic injuries.”

McPherson says the danger lies in the design.  Several trampolines are connected with steel cables or chain links under thin padding.  As people jump, waves of energy are generated in all directions which can cause those “double bounces” that can end in high impact collisions.

 “They’re moving at speeds and with energy and when they hit or get hit by somebody else that’s twice their weight, they end up with crush injuries,” says McPherson

Injuries so severe they can lead to death. At his peak Ric Sweze was a world class gymnast.

“Other than his children and me that mattered most to his life was his gymnastics,” says Nick Scandalios.

That all changed in 2017 when Ric visited a trampoline park in Virginia with his husband, Nick Scandalios, and their twins.

 Nick says Ric was jumping on the trampoline when he came down wrong on his foot, stumbled and hit his head against a padded wall.

“The C2 vertebra cracked, constricted his airway and his blood flow, paralyzed him.. he was over 90% brain dead,” says Nick.

In the last few years, emergency room visits caused by trampoline park injuries has skyrocketed.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the numbers have shot up from 2,500 in 2013 to almost 18,000 in 2017.

In response to the deaths and injuries, the International Association of Trampoline Parks told CBS News, “There are parks that do not adhere to industry technical standards, and do not operate with safety at the forefront of their agendas.”

The group will launch an initiative this summer to require third-party inspections to ensure the safest experience possible.

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