Trampolining for Those With Special Needs

Many parents are looking for safe, comfortable, and quiet ways for their children with special needs to exercise. Trampolines for special needs children are a great tool to help keep them stimulated and active. A JumpSport fitness rebounder, originally designed for fitness enthusiasts, has reached the homes and schools of many who believe in trampolines for special needs children. Read on to find out what the British Trampoline Federation has to say about trampolines for special needs children.

The term special needs is a term used by the British Trampoline Federation (BTF) to cover those trampolinists who need extra attention while bouncing, and for whom something more than basic coaching skills are required. The reason for this may be a physical or mental disability, or it may be a problem with communication. In the context of coaching a person on a trampoline, an inability to speak English would be a "special need". The BTF has a special training course, leading to additional coaching qualifications in this area. In the Gillingham Jumpers we are seriously interested in this aspect of the sport, and have three coaches who are qualified under the BTF scheme. One of the major drawbacks in this area is that the coach:pupil ratio is much lower in a trampolines for special needs group, and the numbers that can be involved in this area are still small.

We (the BTF) are, however, currently running sessions for people with both mental and physical disabilities; one of these groups includes three blind children, who are benefiting from the use of the trampoline to provide a safe environment where they can use their energies to the full, free from the inhibitions which they usually have on the ground. In the notes supplied by the BTF as part of the Special Needs training course, a list of the benefits of trampolining is provided. This list includes:

  • strengthening of limbs
  • numeracy
  • patience
  • communication
  • co-ordination
  • independence
  • self confidence
  • balance
  • muscle tone
  • reaction speed
  • self image
  • eye contact
  • sense of achievement
  • stamina
  • spatial awareness
  • body awareness
  • social awareness
  • consideration of others
  • trust in coach
  • color recognition
  • height/depth perception
  • fun and enjoyment

    It is an impressive list, and obviously every pupil will benefit in different areas to a greater or lesser extent. Looking simply at the physiological benefits which will be achieved even by a very low level of skill in bouncing, the training notes identified the following beneficial effects of trampolining:

  • An aerobic effect on the body, improving the intake of oxygen, to the benefit of the heart and lungs.

  • An effect on muscles, increasing the muscles' capacity for work.

  • An effect on circulation - of particular value in instances where there is an interruption of the normal circulatory system, such as trauma.

  • An effect on joints, strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, and improving movement (and reducing the risk of developing some forms of arthritis).

  • An effect of the internal organs. Even in seemingly passive activities on the trampoline, the effect of movement and the slightly increased G-force will be affecting the internal organs. This activity will be stimulating areas such as digestion and bowels, and will over a period enhance their efficiency.

    The act of jumping has many health benefits; burns calories, releases endorphins, and also stimulates brain cells as well as exercises all the cells in your body. Trampolines for special needs children are becoming more and more popular. They are quickly becoming an asset for the parent and child relationship and are more than a toy or a tool, but a necessity in the home.