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'He's determined to walk out of here': Teen breaks neck at trampoline park

A teenager is in hospital after breaking his neck at an indoor trampoline facility in Sherwood Park.

Landon Smith, 18, was seriously injured in a foam pit at Jump Park Trampoline in Sherwood Park

Landon Smith, 18, broke his neck after jumping into a foam pit at a trampoline facility in Sherwood Park this weekend. (Jordan Smith)

A teenager is in hospital after breaking his neck at an indoor trampoline facility in Sherwood Park, Alta.

Jordan Smith said his brother, Landon, is undergoing surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital after jumping into a foam pit at Jump Park Trampoline over the weekend. 

Landon, 18, also suffered spinal cord damage and torn ligaments in his neck.

'It became known that there was something a lot more wrong'

Edmonton

4 years ago
1:21
Jordan Smith's brother Landon broke his neck at a trampoline park. He describes how his brother was injured and warns of the danger of trampoline parks. 1:21

Smith said he believes his brother hit his head or neck at the bottom of the foam pit during his first jump of the day.

The park's foam pit has a trampoline at the bottom that sits just above the floor, with 3.5 feet of foam blocks on top, according to the facility.

When his brother jumped and didn't get out, his friends first thought he was joking, Smith said, until Landon's girlfriend jumped into the pit herself to check on him.

"She grabbed him, and no response," Smith said. "After that point, it became known that there was something a lot more wrong."

He just wants to walk. That's his biggest thing right now. He's determined to walk out of here.- Jordan Smith, Landon Smith's brother

The extent of the teenager's injuries won't be known until after his surgery, and once the swelling goes down, Smith said.

But Smith said his brother does have feeling in certain points of his legs, and movement in his arms and fingers. On Sunday, he wiggled his toe.

"It's tough. He's a pretty big kid. There's lots of concerns right now," he said.

"He just wants to walk. That's his biggest thing right now. He's determined to walk out of here."

Jump Park Trampoline issues statement

On Monday, Jump Park Trampoline posted a statement on its Facebook page confirming the incident happened, and saying staff are in contact with and offering support to the teen's family. 

The foam pit at the park is "industry standard," the statement says.

"The safety of our guests is the top priority at Jump Park Trampoline and we have caused trained professionals to complete a thorough inspection of all parts of the foam pit and the precautionary trampoline, and have been advised that there are no defects with the equipment," the statement says. 

But Smith said he thinks the company has been more defensive than supportive of his family. He said the facility's website has removed references to diving and flipping in the park.

He said he and his brother have been to numerous trampoline parks, and after doing more research into these facilities, he's not convinced they're safe.

Foam pits at gymnastics clubs are usually around six to eight feet deep, he said.

"It's tough to hear that it's half the depth of anywhere else," Smith said. 

"He's a pretty physically fit guy," he said of his brother. "It's not like he doesn't know what he's doing. It was definitely something harder than a trampoline hitting his head.

"I don't want another Landon to happen. I don't want what my parents are going through to happen to another set of parents."

'It is a very, very high risk activity'

Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services' senior medical officer of health, says AHS does not have much data on trampoline parks in particular, but there have been a "significant" number of injuries associated with trampolines in general, particularly in children under the age of 18.

Between 2013 and 2015, there was a 30-per-cent increase in trampoline-related injuries reported at hospitals, he said. 

The most recent data, from 2015, showed there were 1,900 reported trampoline-related injuries in children under the age of 18 in Alberta, and 105 of those children were admitted to hospital.

Most injuries were fractures, especially foot and ankle fractures, but there were also head injuries.

"What we want to say to people is, it is important to know that whenever you're using a trampoline, it is a dangerous thing and there is a high rate of injury," Predy said.

At the end of the day, I don't think anybody in the safety business, like myself, would encourage anybody to do recreational  trampolining .- Don Voaklander , Injury Prevention Centre, University of Alberta

Don Voaklander, director of the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta, said good data about indoor trampoline parks in Canada doesn't yet exist, despite their increasing popularity.

But in the U.S., there was a 900-per- cent increase in the number of trampoline-related injuries from indoor trampoline parks between 2010 and 2014, he said.

Data shows injuries from trampoline parks can be more severe in those over the age of 18, Voaklander said. 

"As you get older, people are bigger, so the forces generated are greater," he said. 

"So, when you land in an awkward fashion, there's more chance of damage being done to your body."

Voaklander said he's not sure who regulates indoor trampoline parks. 

"At the end of the day, I don't think anybody in the safety business, like myself, would encourage anybody to do recreational trampolining," he said.

"It is a very, very high risk activity that should be done with the proper equipment under very controlled situations. You're probably safer to stay away from trampoline parks and trampolines in general."

With files from Travis McEwan, Alex Zabjek

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