Nfld. & Labrador

Ban backyard trampolines, doctor says after N.L. girl suffers neck, spinal injuries

A St. John's doctor is calling for a ban on trampolines after seeing numerous injuries, from battered brains and spinal cords to strokes.

Death, broken necks and strokes among some of the trampoline casualties in Canada

Dr. Archna Shah is a pediatric emergency room doctor in St. John's. She would like to see recreational trampoline use banned. (CBC)

Archna Shah is tired of seeing kids with trampoline injuries at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's — everything from broken bones to head injuries and strokes.

The pediatric emergency room doctor is calling for a sweeping ban on all recreational trampolines.

"I'm in support of trying to ban trampolines because of all of these bad outcomes and serious injuries we end up seeing," she told Here and Now's Debbie Cooper on Thursday.

Shah, along with the Canadian Pediatric Society, has been outspoken since seeing an upswing in injuries over the last four years.

Trampolines can pose a risk of injury to children, especially if used without adult supervision, says a St. John's doctor. (Samuel Peebles/Daily Citizen/Associated Press)

Part of it, she believes, is due to trampolines gaining popularity from events such as the summer Olympics. They are also becoming more accessible, with public trampolines being available in parks and businesses.

"With all these new ways to access trampolines, we see the rates of injuries go up as well," Shah said.

Girl suffers spinal cord injuries in central

Rihanna Stuckless, 8, suffered serious injuries while playing on a trampoline in Purbeck's Cove, near Baie Verte, on July 7.

The child was rushed to hospital in Baie Verte and transferred to Grand Falls-Windsor where she spent the night in the intensive care unit.

Eight-year-old Rihanna Stuckless, of Purbeck's Cove, is in hospital in St. John's after suffering spinal cord and neck injuries on a trampoline. (N.D. Photography)

She was sent to Gander the following day and airlifted to the Janeway, where it was determined she had suffered damage to her neck and spinal cord.

According to a GoFundMe page for the Stuckless family, Rihanna will remain in St. John's for 12 weeks, while she wears a neck brace.

As of Thursday, the fundraiser had garnered more than $3,000 for the family's food and lodging.

Tips for staying as safe as possible

While it would seem logical that most injuries occur from a person falling off a trampoline, Shah said that's not the case.

Two-thirds of emergency room visits come from injuries sustained on the middle of the trampoline.

"It's not even [about] having your equipment like the netting or the padding on there, because it happens in the centre of the mat," she said.

For those who supervise through a window, that's not really supervising. You have to be there.- Dr. Archna Shah

Injuries are more prevalent when more than one person is bouncing at a time, and children under six should avoid trampolines altogether.

Injuries might be prevented if an adult is watching closely, Shah said.

"For those who supervise through a window, that's not really supervising. You have to be there and you have to be watching them for every single move."

Not the only one calling for ban

The Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both advised against recreational trampoline use.

Doctors all across the nation have spoken to CBC News over the years, warning of the risks and asking parents to reconsider.

While they don't see trampoline injuries every day, Shah said the severity of the injuries they do see is enough to call for a ban.

In some of the worst cases she has personally dealt with, Shah has seen children become disabled as a result of strokes, stemming from trampoline head injuries.

"The sprains and the small broken bones we see, they are serious, but it's the bad outcomes — the kids who have brain damage or head injuries from it, who have broken necks and won't be able to walk and have months of rehabilitation ... It's life altering."

With files from Here and Now