This Boy Broke His Neck on a Trampoline & Doctors Completely Missed It for 5 Weeks

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When Riley Hoy fell off his backyard trampoline, he landed with a startling thud. The 5-year-old from England had been doing a backflip during a family BBQ in July 2017, but his move went wrong and he overshot his landing. Understandably, Riley let out a yelp as his little body hit the ground.


According to Riley's parents, they immediately called 111 (England's urgent medical help line) after his accident and were advised that it was most likely a muscle injury. Based on the operator's advise, Riley's mom, Gemma Hoy, gave him Ibuprofen in the hopes that he would be okay the next day.

However, the following morning he woke up screaming, so Gemma and Riley's dad, Steve, took the boy to the hospital. Gemma told Kidspot that the ER doctors diagnosed Riley with a simple case of whiplash and sent him home. "We trusted them and they said to keep moving, so we were even saying to him 'come on, keep exercising it,'" Gemma said. "As the days went on he was less and less his happy self."

broken neck
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Despite the fact that they took him back to the hospital a second time, Riley's diagnosis remained unchanged, so in the month that followed, Riley continued his active life. Since it was summer, he swam and even went camping, but his concerned parents decided to take him to a different doctor five weeks after the accident.

"I thought they were just going to say he needed some manipulation," Gemma said.

Unfortunately, a CT scan at Bristol Children's Hospital showed that Riley had actually broken his neck at the C2 vertebra and the other doctors completely missed this serious injury. "One of the doctors said how he didn't end up paralyzed or worse in the five weeks, was beyond him," she said. "Someone was looking out for him, that's for sure."

Broken Neck
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According to surgeons from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a broken C2 vertebra in kids is a rare and often deadly injury, and "historically most reported cases have been fatal." Although some can recover "satisfactory neurologic function" with early intervention, healing from this type of fracture can still include paralysis and lifelong breathing problems.  

With precious weeks having already passed since Riley's injury, he was quickly placed in a halo neck brace with pins drilled into his head to help the C2 vertebrae heal. "It was horrific to go through," Gemma said. "The halo was six bolts around the top of the halo which have got pins which rest on the skull, going through the skin."

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After Riley found out that he was going to have to wear the special brace for two months, a neighbor came up with a thoughtful surprise: a bear with his own "halo" neck brace to match the child's. Jamie the Bear's neck brace was made from straws and he accompanied Riley to every doctor appointment, even having his "screws" tightened each time Riley had to. 

Both Jamie and Riley had their braces officially removed in November, and Riley finished his recovery in a new brace. Now, the energetic child is back to running around in PE at school. "He's back riding his bike and wrestling with his brother," she said. "I must admit that it does make me cringe, but we've got to let him be a 5-year-old."

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