We periodically get asked about the use of trampolines by people with Down syndrome. Recreational use of trampolines is associated with significant injuries.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of trampolines for recreational use. The policy statement on trampolines (see link below) states that “Many reports have revealed that head and/or neck injuries accounted for 10% to 17% of all trampoline-related injuries, and 0.5% of all trampoline injuries resulted in permanent neurologic damage.”
The laxity of the joints often found in people with DS could put them at even higher risk. Of particular concern is the possibility of neck injury. Atlanto-axial instability (the slippage of the first vertebrae in the neck on the second) is more common in people with DS. A blow to the head or a sudden jarring movement of the head that might occur on a trampoline could cause spinal trauma.
Would a normal lateral cervical spine (neck) x-ray guarantee that a neck injury would be avoided with participation on a trampoline by a person with DS? People without DS who have normal cervical spines can have significant spinal cord injuries on a trampoline. Furthermore, we know that normal x-rays don’t predict lack of vulnerability to cervical spine injury for people with DS in some other situations such as when under anesthesia. Caution is recommended for all people with DS when under anesthesia because movement of the head/neck under anesthesia has been associated with significant injury to the spine even with a normal neck x-ray. As in people without DS, even with a normal lateral neck x-ray, spine injury is still a potential concern for people with DS who can participate in recreational use of a trampoline.