After successful surgery on Tuesday, a Sherwood Park man is hopeful for his younger brother’s recovery from a broken neck he sustained at a local trampoline park.
“He’s got a really tough, uphill battle ahead of him but I mean he’s my brother and I know he’s strong so I think he’ll be OK,” Jordan Smith said of his 18-year-old brother Landon on Tuesday.
“He’s been stubborn ever since he was two… We didn’t like it so much when he was young but right now that’s kind of what he needs.”
Smith said his brother broke his C5 vertebrae and suffered spinal cord damage while spending Saturday evening at Jump Park Trampoline in Sherwood Park.
The University of Alberta Hospital performed surgery on Landon on Tuesday.
“Basically, they made an incision in the front of his neck, they took a donor bone, attached it to the top and bottom vertebrae, attached it to the C5 and then a plate around it.”
He said, according to people who were with Landon at the time, he bottomed out the trampoline and the girl he was with found him and realized something was wrong right away.
“You never expect this to be the cards that you’re dealt,” Smith said. “We’ll have to take it one day at a time.”
For him, the incident raises questions about jump parks in general and feels more safety measures should be put in place as well as more regulation as a whole.
“I’ve been to them,” Smith said. “They’re so much fun and I would never want to deter someone from having fun but I think there has to be… In terms of the jump park industry, we haven’t been able to find any regulations or any protocols or anything like that in terms of what is legal and what’s not.”
Cynthia Carels is a lawyer with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton. She says many jump parks require guests sign waivers but she isn’t certain those waivers absolve businesses of all liabilities.
“When we’re talking about some of these hidden risks that people might not know about – let’s say there was a construction fault or some sort of maintenance fault – it’s very doubtful that a waiver is actually going to obliviate somebody’s liability on that front,” Carels said.
Carels added courts also take into account how well visitors understood waivers when they signed them when ruling on civil cases.
Dr. Gerry Predy, a senior medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services, said while AHS does not have data on jump parks, trampolines on the whole can be dangerous.
“We just want the message to be out there… that if you get on a trampoline, it is a dangerous place,” he said.
“Whenever you are using a trampoline, it is a dangerous thing and there is a high risk of injury. We just want the public to be aware of that.”
Predy added AHS has seen a “significant number of injuries” related to trampolines over the last number of years. He believes they should not be purchased for backyards or to be used at home.
Smith said for now his brother and his family are just focused on Landon’s recovery. He’s grateful for all the support they’ve received since the incident occurred.
“He’s got a huge, huge support system – my phone has been off the ringer all day just with friends and family and honestly, some guy just texted me from like California, like, ‘Hey, caught wind of the story, hope he’s doing OK.’”
Smith said while his brother is likely facing a long and unpredictable road to recovery, he is in good spirits and smiling and even talking about taking the girl he credits with saving his life to Mexico.
Smith can’t help but be impressed by Landon’s attitude.
“His biggest thing is he’s just so determined to walk,” he said. “He’s like, ‘If you gave me $1 million or I could walk right now, I’d take my legs.’”
On Tuesday, Landon had motion in his arms and sporadic sensation around his legs. Smith said Landon is expected to spend a few more days in the intensive care unit before being moved to another part of hospital for several weeks. After that, he is expected to begin physiotherapy at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.
-ms, With files from Quinn Ohler and Sarah Kraus.