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Trampolines & Jump Centers: Fun but Risky, Parents Beware

By now I am pretty sure that all of us have either seen the ads for or been to one of the many trampoline centers popping up in a town near you. Or you are one of the many homes in American that have a trampoline in the yard. While I personally have nothing against trampolines, being in the EMS field I am always aware of the dangers they pose and what kind of injuries they would present with. While your own personal trampoline or the ones at the jumping center are a lot of fun there are some numbers I think you should have and recommendations you should be aware of before letting the kids bounce away.

The Statistics.

Nearly 100,000 people a year were sent to the ER with trampoline related injuries from 2010- 2014 and about a third of those were with broken bones and 92% of those were in children under 16. Injuries of the head and spinal cord were also reported in that time and represent the smallest amount but the most severe. In an American Academy of Pediatrics study they found that fractures were more common in younger children than adolescents and children under 6 years of age actually had the highest percentage of fractures with 47.8%. The study also revealed that while trampoline injures at home stayed around the same average per year, there is a growing and alarming number of injuries at trampoline parks with the national trend getting higher and higher.

The Recommendations.

The safety recommendations for trampolines are the same over a number of different studies. The American Academy of Pediatrics went to far as to recommend against the recreational use of trampolines for children in 2012, But seeing as how people are jumping now more than ever, they have put together a list of things you can do to keep your children and yourself as safe as possible while jumping. The recommendations are:

  • Adult supervision at ALL times.
  • Only 1 jumper on the trampoline at a time. Most injuries occur with multiple jumpers.
  • No Flipping. Safety rules may vary at trampoline centers. Please check the rules before jumping.
  • Adequate padding on the trampoline, all of its exposed parts. Frame, springs, poles. As well as Padding on the floor around the trampoline.
  • Checking all equipment before jumping.
  • Having the trampoline at ground level if possible.
  • Having the trampoline clear of any overhead obstructions: Trees, Lines, Poles, House.

What to do.

Should an injury occur on a trampoline what to do will depend on the severity of the injury, but as I always tell people, if the thought to call 911 crosses your mind, go ahead and do it. Some injuries may be minor and require nothing more than some ice and elevation, but should the injury involve the head, neck, or spine, a loss of consciousness, or broken bones, then please let EMS handle it. They are trained and prepared to deal with these types of injuries.

As, always I hope you have a fun and happy summer and above all be safe!

Toys R Us Differently-abled Kids Gift Guide 2013 Now Available

Differently-abled Toy GuideEvery year Toys R Us puts out a gift guide for special needs kids featuring a celebrity on the cover, safe play tips and other information from experts, and gorgeous photos of children playing happily. This year Gabby Douglas, 2012 gold medalist is on the cover and on the pages inside. Gabby is now working with Special Olympics to inspire young athletes.

The guide is divided many different ways; by gender, age groups, brand and also into categories including Auditory, Creativity, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Social Skills, Tactile, Language and more. This can be very helpful for relatives who don’t know the lingo that special needs parents and caregivers use daily.

One nice thing about the guide is that the toys are not specifically therapy toys – they are the same toys kids are seeing on the holiday commercials, and the same toys their typically developing peers will be getting as gifts. They are the same toys kids will see at playdates, literally giving kids a level playing field.

Another added perk is that the site allows parents to set up a wish list. If your child’s teacher or therapist recommends an item, friends and family living far away can order it online and have it delivered to your child.

You can pick up a hard copy of the guide at any toys R Us store, or view the clickable online version.

Happy Shopping!

The Gift Guide for Differently-Abled Kids is now available in stores and online from Toys R Us

The Gift Guide for Differently-Abled Kids is now available in stores and online from Toys R Us

Why Are There So Many Recalls on Kids’ Products?

I’m checking my email on my iPhone 4S (don’t you love Siri?) and click on “an important message” from Build-A-Bear Workshop. I think it has something to do with my daughter Kate’s online game account. Nope. It says that one of the stuffed animals I bought has been recalled because parts of it present a choking hazard and that I should bring it back to the store for an exchange. I look at the picture, and sure enough, I have seen that bear before … on Kate’s bed.

I’m actually trying to decide whether I should kidnap the bear and return it to the store (will she ever miss it among the pile of other teddies?) when I scroll further down my email. More bad news: Pottery Barn Kids sent me an email about the bed I bought for Kate three years ago. It says several canopies have fallen down on children and urges me to remove it immediately while I wait for replacement parts. What the heck! I think she’ll notice that the top of her bed is missing!

I appreciate getting recall notices. I really do. I don’t want my daughter playing with dangerous toys, sleeping on a hazardous bed or eating contaminated food. But, geez, why couldn’t they get it right the first time? I vent to Nychelle Fleming of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency that tracks all the nonfood recalls and advocates for stronger safety standards: “How widespread is the problem?”

Fleming shoots me off a list of the recalls for the last month: rattles (choking hazard), lunchboxes (problems with the cool gel), desk chairs and stools (lead paint), gas grills (fire hazard), even bike helmets (don’t meet standards to prevent injury). In the first three weeks of January, in fact, there were nearly 20 different types of products recalled, representing almost 1/2 million items sold. Honestly, with as much stuff as we have in our house (send me your de-clutter tips!), it’s no wonder I don’t own more recalled items. Fleming actually thinks I might. “Do you check regularly for recalls?” she asks.

I confess; I don’t. I knew about the stuffed bear and the canopy because the companies sent me emails. More and more businesses, she says, retain purchase records and alert consumers to a problem. In addition, Fleming thinks I should also fill out product information cards on items I buy. I often resist doing this — I get plenty of junk mail already — but she says a recent law prevents companies from doing anything else with the info except contacting you if something goes wrong. Of course, she says the CPSC also posts all the recalls on its home page, CPSC.gov. And for food recalls, you can look at Recalls.gov/Food.

The CPSC doesn’t think there will be a drop in recalls anytime soon — standards are higher, and reporting of injuries is better than ever — so it’s just something we’ll all have to deal with. Grrr. But at least so far in my experience, companies are trying to make things right. Kate got a cute new bear, and Pottery Barn Kids is sending a repairperson to my house to fix the hardware on the canopy. And with the millions of dollars recalls must be costing big businesses, it’s certainly in their best interest to make their products safer the first time around.

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PedSafe Editor’s Note: If you’d like to check if a product you’ve purchased for your child has been recalled, we have a “Recalled Product Search Tool” that we host on our Innovations page that will enable you to search the CPSC database



2010 Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids now available

Differently abled toy guideThis year’s toy guide for differently-abled kids is now available from Toys R Us online and in stores. Featuring actress, author, philanthropist and mother Holly Robinson Peete, the guide explains which developmental areas each toy addresses. There are also inspiring quotes from special needs parents sprinkled throughout the booklet.

All items in the booklet are available online with free shipping or at your local store. Layaway is also available.

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Editor’s Note: There is a new version of the Guide available every September. To get on the mailing list to receive next year’s Guide, send an email to DifferentlyAbled@toysrus.com

The 2010 SNAP – Special Needs Adaptable Product Awards Winners

Snap Award for Special NeedsIs there a special needs child on your gift list? The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio has announced their 2010 toy award winners, including the SNAP – Special Needs Adaptable Product Awards to products that can be easily used by or adapted for special needs children. There are categories for various age groups, with explanations of how it benefits special needs kids. Most of the winning toys are available at your local Toys R Us store.

Toys For Children With Special Needs

Toys are learning tools for children. Children use these tools to express themselves, to learn, to explore, to dream. Give the wrong toy to a child and they will express frustration. But give them the Toys for Special Needsright toy and they will have a very productive and enjoyable time. A toy that is properly chosen can aid a child in addressing his or her difficulties. At the same time, choosing a toy without consideration of a child’s special needs will only lead to aggravation for them and disappointment for both of you.

There are toy categories that are well suited for children with special needs. They are often used by therapists and teachers to help children build social and gross motor skills. Here are some of them:

Board Games: These toys are excellent for children with difficulty mastering social or communication skills. These are perfect toys to teach them about rules, turn taking and social interaction with other kids.

Electronic Games: Although, you might be opposed to video games, there are video games that can be beneficial in building attention skills. Some computer games reward attention by adding difficulty as the child progresses through the game.

Sports Toys: Do not do a disservice to an uncoordinated child by declining to buy them a sports toy. A sports toy can actually help a child with limited gross motor skills. For example, a softer foam ball can give a child a chance to practice the art of throwing and catching without getting hurt. Well-chosen sports toys, designed to help build skills rather than to highlight weaknesses, can help.

Fantasy Toys: There is no better way to help a child with special needs than by engaging his or her imagination through play. Fantasy toys, from dolls to puppets, provide avenues for communication and a window of insight for a parent who might want to know better what a child is thinking or feeling.

Be prepared to adapt these toys to the needs of the child. Just because everyone else is playing with the toy in a certain way, it does not mean that they have to. Consider the setting. Where they play can have a direct impact on the child’s ability to enjoy the toy and the playtime. Be creative in your setup as well. You know your child more than anyone, so if your child has problems with attention he may have better concentration sitting in a chair at a table rather than on the floor of the living room. A child with low vision will need more lighting. A child with hearing difficulties may do better in a quiet room. Scan your play area with the child’s special need in mind before sitting down to play.

In the end, taking the time to match both the toy and the environment to your child’s special needs will make a world of difference in the enjoyment their new toy brings.

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Reference: Marianne Szymaski, “Toy Tips”, Jossey-Bass, 2004, p. 74-78

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