This child broke his neck on a trampoline -- but doctors didn't notice for five weeks

Riley Hoy

A five-year-old’s boy’s parents are looking for answers after their son spent five weeks with a broken neck before doctors noticed his injury.

Watched by his parents, Riley Hoy was doing his usual “tricks” on his family’s trampoline in Bristol, U.K., when he attempted to backflip and ended up landing on his head. His parents Gemma and Steve Hoy immediately called emergency services where they were assured he most likely had a muscle injury.

Giving the five-year-old some ibuprofen and putting him to bed, his parents knew something was seriously wrong when he woke up the next morning screaming in pain. Rushing him to hospital, the child was diagnosed with whiplash and sent home.

It wasn’t until weeks later that a physiotherapist told the Hoy family he was worried about the child that they did further testing. After a CT scan, doctors at Bristol Children’s Hospital confirmed that Hoy had broken his CT vertebrae – a crucial bone in the neck – in half. The next day he was fitted with a halo neck brace, and remained in the brace for eight weeks.

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“I thought they were just going to say he needed some manipulation,” Hoy’s mother told Metro U.K. “It was horrific to go through.”

“The halo was six bolts around the top of the halo which have got pins which rest on the skull, going through the skin, and they are attached to a little waistcoat type thing… It kept his head in one position. The hospital were incredible and did an amazing job,” she said.

After learning about the child’s horrific ordeal, a neighbour gave the little boy a teddy bear, fitted with a similar brace made of straws and tape. The bear became a mascot for Hoy, helping him through his recovery. Seeing the impact of the stuffed animal on him, a family friend made a whole team of bears with neck and leg braces for other children at the hospital.

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“It was really helpful for him. When the doctors checked his pins, they would check his teddy too, and when Riley had it off, so did the bear,” said the five-year-old’s mom. “We saw what good it did for Riley – he dealt with it so well and was brilliant – and it’s brilliant that the hospital now has more bears for other children.”

Hoy’s mom has since spoken to other doctors who admit they are surprised at the boy’s full recovery. They believe most in his situation would have ended up paralyzed — or worse — after five weeks of living with an untreated broken neck.

Once the halo brace was removed, Hoy had to wear a plastic brace until December, but he has since recovered almost completely. Doctors predict he will be back to his usual activities by the summer. His mom confirms, unsurprisingly, the trampoline has been removed and she is happy to see her son back to normal.

“He’s back riding his bike and wrestling with his brother… I must admit that it does make me cringe, but we’ve got to let him be a five-year-old.”

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