Boy breaks neck on trampoline, doctors fail to notice for five weeks

Laura Elvin

A five-year-old boy broke his neck doing a backflip on a trampoline - a severe injury that went undiagnosed for more than a month.

Brave Riley Hoy spent two months in a frame which was bolted to his skull after the he landed on his neck in his garden.

He bravely faced his long recovery with the help of a teddy with a matching metal brace.

But doctors had initially failed to notice he had broken his neck for five weeks, and he even went swimming and camping before a scan revealed the fracture.

Riley Hoy broke his neck at a backyard BBQ. Source: SWNS

He was fitted with a "halo" neck brace for eight weeks, and a neighbour gave him a teddy with a matching structure - made from straws and tape - to help him through.

And after seeing how much "Jamie Bear" helped Riley, a family friend made a whole family of similar teddies with neck and leg braces to help other children.

They were gifted to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children where Riley's break was spotted and he was successfully treated.

Mum Gemma, 32, an administrator from Clevedon, North Somerset, said: "It's a thing you never think you will face.

But the little boy's break was not diagnosed for five weeks after his accident. Source: SWNS

"One of the doctors said how he didn't end up paralysed or worse in the five weeks, was beyond him.

"Someone was looking out for him, that's for sure.

"He took Jamie Bear to all his appointments, and when Riley had his pins tightened, Jamie Bear did too.

"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.

Before he knew about his break, Riley continued to carry on any little boy would in the summer. Source: SWNS

"It made all the difference to Riley, it really did.

"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."

Backyard BBQ break

Daredevil Riley broke his C2 vertebrae while attempting a backflip on the trampoline in his garden while the family were enjoying a barbecue in July.

He landed on his head and let out a "yelp" and his worried parents Gemma and Steve, 35, called emergency services and were told it was likely a muscle injury.

They gave him Ibuprofen but when he woke up screaming the next day, they took him to a local hospital where they claim doctors diagnosed whiplash.

"We trusted them and they said to keep moving so we were even saying to him 'come on keep exercising it'," said Gemma, who even took him back to the same hospital for a second check.

Riley's mum Gemma said sadness set in in the weeks after the break. Source: SWNS

"As the days went on he was less and less his happy self."

Five weeks after the accident, Steve took him to Bristol Children's Hospital on the advice of a physiotherapist the worried family had consulted.

A CT scan revealed he had broken the crucial bone in his neck in half and the next morning he was fitted with a halo neck brace.

But even with the break and the brace, Riley carried on as before. Source: SWNS

"I thought they were just going to say he needed some manipulation," said Gemma, who had two other sons, eight and one.

"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.

A neighbour gave Riley the gift of the bear with 'halo' brace to help him through the recovery. Source: SWNS

"It kept his head in one position. The hospital were incredible and did an amazing job.

"And Riley was so upbeat and smiled through the whole thing, despite what he was going through.

"It was far from ideal for him to spend his whole summer with the halo.

"He couldn't get it wet so couldn't wash in more than a couple of inches of bath water."

Neighbour's gift of tender loving bear

When Riley came home he was visited by neighbour Rachel Dark, 30, who gave him a teddy fitted with his own neck brace she had made at home with a glue gun.

He went to all of Riley's appointments, having his "screws" tightened when Riley did - and even had them "removed" when the schoolboy did, in November.

Rachel's dad Mike Somerton, 57, and his social club the Clevedon Men's Shed have made a whole family of similar bears to help out children who wear frames.

Rachel Dark even made a family of bears to keep Riley company. Source: SWNS

Little Riley was in a plastic neck brace until December but is now back doing PE at school, and is expected to be completely recovered by the summer.

Unsurprisingly the family got rid of the trampoline and Gemma added: "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."

And Riley and his family were able to bear together and get through the worst of it together. Source: SWNS

A spokeswoman for Bristol Royal Hospital for Children said: "Clevedon Men's Shed is a local group that meet to share workshop facilities, skill, experience and work on projects together.

"They got wind of the project and decided to help out by making some more matching teddies.

"We think they're absolutely brilliant, and would like to extend our gratitude to everyone in the group for getting involved."