Welcome to Novant Health Go

Health library

Quick Search    

Search Alphabetically



Injuries Jump Along with Bounce House Popularity

< Nov. 28, 2012 > -- They range in design from castles to desert islands to birthday cakes, but the object of these inflatables is the same: Give kids a fun place to bounce. Researchers caution, though, that too often children end up injured.

Photo of boy getting his forearm splinted and wrapped

A study published online this week in the journal Pediatrics says that on average, 31 kids a day are taken to the emergency room for bounce-related injuries.

"If this was an infectious disease, we'd call it an epidemic and it would be on the front pages all over the country," says study co-author Gary A. Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., who is also director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Jumping for fun

The inflatable bounce houses - also called moon walks, moon bounces, and space walks - allow kids to jump up and down, trampoline-style, in an enclosed area. They are increasingly popular at birthday parties and other kids' events.

For the study, Dr. Smith and his colleagues looked at records for hospital ERs and estimated that nearly 65,000 youngsters were injured in the inflatable bounce houses from 1990 to 2010. The rate of injury during that time period rose 15-fold, with the most rapid boost in the last few years of the study.

The ER patients were an average 7.5 years old. The most common injuries were fractures, at 28 percent, and strains or sprains, at 27 percent. Concussions and cuts were more common among boys than girls, and 3 percent of the injured children had to be admitted to the hospital.

The injuries often followed falls - often a child falling on another youngster - or collisions, Dr. Smith says. In some cases, kids broke their forearm while trying to stop their fall.

Similar cautions

Richard M. Schwend, M.D., at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says the dangers of the bounce houses are like those of trampolines.

"Similar to trampolines, the potential for more severe injury is high when children are attempting stunts, or if a smaller child is being bounced by a larger child or children," Dr. Schwend says. "I have seen cervical spine injury and paralysis when a child jumps headfirst and lands on the head."

Dr. Smith has this advice for parents: If you choose to let your kids play in bounce houses, make sure that they are at least 6 years old. An adult should supervise the activity at all times and allow only one child inside the bounce house at a time. If that's not feasible, children should be of similar age and size, he says.

For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this website.

How Does Your Family Rate on Safety?

Keeping your family safe and sound can be as easy as following simple safety rules consistently. See how many of the following statements are true for you. If any are "false," think about making changes to ensure your family stays safe.

  • No one in your family drives after drinking alcohol.

  • All family members buckle their seat belts every time they ride in a motor vehicle.

  • Every child is restrained in an approved child safety seat or booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle.

  • Any guns in your home are kept unloaded and locked away, and ammunition is stored separately from guns.

  • Your family has discussed fire safety, including an escape plan.

  • Everyone in your family wears helmets when riding bicycles, in-line skating, skateboarding, or when otherwise appropriate. Helmets are appropriate on any type of open moving vehicle or racing vehicle, and are required by law for little league baseball and ice hockey.

  • Every family member wears a life vest when boating. Young children should wear a life vest or flotation device when they are near water (like a swimming pool) AND be attended by an adult.

  • Family members tell someone where they intend to go and when they expect to return when going for a walk, jog, run, camping, or just generally away. Children should always tell their parents where they are going and when they will be back and how they can be reached.

Always consult your physician for more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Association of Pediatrics - Trampolines: What You Need to Know

CDC - Child Injury

Pediatrics - Pediatric Inflatable Bouncer-Related in the United States, 1990-2010