Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trampolines Are the Devil: A Cautionary Tale

I hate trampolines.

As a kid, of course I loved them. Until I was at a party in junior high, and saw a kid do a face-dive onto the springs, and split (yes, split) his nose wide open. That's an image that stays with you.

So there are pads for the springs, and nets, and more padded bars. None of those things can prevent broken bones, sprained muscles or torn ligaments.

And none of those things prevented my son's injury.

I should have known better.

In 2006, my son, Monkey 4, was 7 years-old when he jumped on the trampoline twice -- as in two jumps -- and tore most of the ligaments in his knee. I heard a terrible scream, the kind no mother ever wants to hear, and saw my son trying to hop and hobble back to the house with the lower half of his leg dangling unnaturally. His knee cap was then on the outer part of his leg.

After a useless trip to the ER and a month wasted with a local orthopaedist who said he "just wasn't sure how to treat someone so young with that kind of injury," we were blessed to find a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon that could help my son regain the use of his leg. It also turned out that this doctor's special interest is knees. . . . I saw that as a bit of Providence!

In April of 2006, my son underwent arthroscopic surgery to stabilize his patella (requiring a hamstring graft and muscle realignment.) The outcome was excellent, and his recovery was swift and complete.

Knee, with leg straight. . . looks pretty good. Knee stays in place here.

But children grow, and there are those pesky growth spurts. . . . which wreak havoc on my son's knee. We always knew he would have to have at least one other knee surgery, and we were hoping we could hold off until his mid-teens. But now it doesn't look like the knee is going to hold out that long. His knee has become unstable, and light to moderate activity (like walking 9 holes of golf or going on a 10-minute bike ride) causes pain and discomfort.

When he bends his knee slightly, the knee cap starts to slide to the side and down.

Today, he saw his doctor, and the outlook is not good. Surgery is a strong possibility. One question regarding surgery is when to do the surgery. Do we wait? Do we do it now? If now, then another question arises -- how many will be required? If we don't choose surgery, his joint would degenerate faster and pain would be a huge factor. So for now, two CTs are being scheduled, and once those are completed, we'll have to look at his options more closely when we have more information.

When the knee is bent more (about 110-degrees) the knee cap is completely off track.

His injuries are permanent. This definitely affects his quality of life. No football, no soccer, no roller blading, no bounce houses at birthday parties. Not to mention the pain from the injury, surgeries and recoveries. Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars that are spent (and will be spent) just so he can walk and not have chronic pain. Not to mention the likelihood that he will have arthritis by the time he's 20.

Please think about these things before you let your child jump on a trampoline. Be safe.


  1. Oh, wow!! We had a trampoline for about 7 years and no-one ever got hurt. We used to love laying on it and looking up at the sky and jumping the children up in the air. I have heard of injuries, but didn't really think it would ever happen. It never did but we had to get rid of it because it was getting old and worn and we didn't want it to dry-rot and someone fall through the bottom (which we have heard of happening also!)

    So sorry your son has to go through this!! :( What a terrible shame...it affects his whole life so much.
    (((((HUGS to him))))

  2. We have had a trampoline for ages too, and no injuries thus far (fingers crossed!!) Those pictures make me feel slightly queasy - I really hope that he will have a pain free life and is able to do as much as possible.

  3. OUCH!!! I've never seen an injury like that from a trampoline. I personally dislike them - Taylor has fallen off of them (more like flew) 4 times and has fortunately never broken a bone... now swimming, that's another story.

  4. Oh, WOW! I really feel badly for your Monkey 4! Looking at his knee makes me ALMOST appreciate the fact that my left kneecap is at least still where it's supposed to be. I ran around my truck to catch something that was about to fall off and forgot about the trailer hitch, and WHAM! Unfortunately, arthritis set in almost right away, and I will eventually have to have a knee replacement. Until I found a doctor to give me a cortisone shot, I walked like "Chester" from the old TV show, Gunsmoke...stiff-legged, because trying to bend my knee and walk just hurt too much. Another side effect of having an unnatural gait is back problems. I can only IMAGINE the pain that your son must endure! Bless his heart! I hope that the doctors can figure out what to do so that Monkey 4 can have a normal and pain-free life.

  5. Knee ligament injuries can be an extremely painful and debilitating problem to deal with. Dr. Grondel is an expert in treating knee injuries, who helped me to get relief from my pain. Visit him or consult for any information http://www.empowereddoctor.com/doctor_index_4869.html


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