Local woman’s death points to trampoline risks

Published: July 16, 2007  |  Source: coloradoan.com
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Last week’s death of a Loveland woman while she jumped on a trampoline with her children was rare, but injuries on the device are common.

Most trampoline-related accidents do not result in severe injury, said Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director at Shepherd Center, a leading Rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Ga.

“Often we see long bone injuries in the arms or legs,” Leslie said. “It’s a rare occurrence to see death.”

Sarah Comstock, 32, suffered fatal injuries to her spine and head while jumping on a trampoline July 12, said Louis Greek, investigator for the Larimer County Coroner’s office.

Her two children were jumping with her at the time of the accident, but details haven’t been made public.

Comstock was buried Monday.

From 2000 to 2005 there were on average 88,563 emergency department visits per year for trampoline-related injuries for children up to 18, according to a study done at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I.

Of those injuries, 95 percent occurred at home.

That was a significant increase from 1990 to 1995 when emergency visits were at approximately 41,600 per year.

Six people died from trampoline-related injuries in 2000, the most recent statistics available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission report.

In 1999, 40 percent of all trampoline-related injuries were to the leg and foot, 29 percent to the arm and hand, 20 percent to the head, neck and face and 10 percent were to the shoulder and trunk, according to the Foundation For Spinal Cord Injury Prevention, Care and Cure.

Serious injuries to the spine or brain can cause paralysis, internal hemorrhaging and death.

“If it’s serious, it’s typically a brain and spinal injury,” Leslie said. “If it is serious enough to cause death it was a very high spinal injury, or injury to the brain.”

Spinal injuries closer to the neck can paralyze the person’s ability to breathe.

“We have people who are permanently on a Ventilator because of these high Cervical injuries,” Leslie said.

Most trampoline injuries occur to children, according to a 2000 Consumer Product Safety Commission Report on trampolines, although victims who died in trampoline accidents range from age 3 to 43.

The report suggests placing the trampoline at ground level, using spotters and adult supervision, avoiding stunts and allowing only one person on the trampoline at a time.

“The problem with the trampoline is, if you have more than one person at a time, the weight displacement could throw someone off,” Leslie said. “It seems like there are better ways to have fun and exercise.”

BY HALLIE WOODS