Evil bouncy castles


The globally held belief that ‘you can’t look miserable on a bouncy castle’ has once and for all been disproved by scientists.

Why? Because according to scientists at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, injuries among the under 18s caused by ‘inflatable bouncers’ (the scientific term for bouncy castles – apparently) have increased 15-fold.  According to the press release, this increase is ‘alarming’ and parents should be made aware of the dangers of the bouncy castle.
Most injuries were fractures and sprains but a whopping 19% were neck and head injuries. Well…’whopping’ only if you’ve never been on a bouncy castle.

I am 5’3″ and have always been relatively little. I loved and feared the bouncy castle in equal measure as a child. I wanted nothing more than to get on the bouncy castle, but once I was there I would lose my footing immediately and spend the majority of my allotted time on the castle scrabbling around on the floor trying not to get jumped on by one of the other kids. It seemed to me that the other kids were somehow pros in bouncy-castling, somehow remaining upright and not getting knocked off their feet by nearby bouncers.

To me, the worst castle bouncers were the bigger kids, the ones pretending to be kings of the bouncy castle, who liked to literally bounce off the walls, bounce into each other or make a conscious effort to knock other kids around. Therefore the following statistic does not surprise me much: “Falls (43 percent) were the most common cause of injury [on inflatable bouncers] followed by stunts and collisions.” And also, the study covers everyone under the age of 18. Now I don’t think anyone is allowed on a bouncy castle past the age of 12. So who are these wayward teens getting into inflatable bouncer trouble? Surely teenagers are too hormonal and grumpy to enjoy a good bouncing on an inflatable bouncer?

What I loved most about reading this study is the fact that the silliness of the bouncy castle had to be quantified in scientific terminology. So the part in which it is explained what does and doesn’t count as an ‘inflatable bouncer’ contains classic sentences as: “… inflatable climbing walls, games, mazes, and boxing rings were excluded because jumping is not the intended use of these inflatable products.” And all the way through the paper it is clear that the researchers *hate* trampolines. They make it so abundantly clear that the inflatable bouncer has been ‘neglected’ as a case study and that all the focus has gone on those attention seeking trampolines. Then in the conclusion they underline several times that the bouncy castle is just as risky as those stupid trampolines! Pah!

Dr. Smith who led this study is very keen that parents should be made aware of the dangers involved with bouncy castles and that national safety guidelines should be set up to avoid these risks.

Dr. Smith also has a PhD in ‘party-pooping’.

Don’t get me wrong, I would be devastated if my dalliances on the bouncy castle had led to any permanent physical damage. But I am convinced that if someone had told the bigger kids that I bounced with that they had to stick to the castle rules, they would’ve ramped up their bouncing escapades the moment the king wasn’t watching. And I would’ve probably ended up with a lot more broken bones and concussions…

Original study: “Pediatric Inflatable Bouncer-related Injuries in the United States, 1990 – 2010” – M.C. Thompson, T. Chounthirath, H. Xiang, G.A. Smith

Published in the December issue of Pediatrics.



3 responses to “Evil bouncy castles

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