KINGMAN, Ind. -
Trampoline sales have soared over the past decade - and so have injuries related with them.
Indiana University researchers say 60 percent of those trampoline-related injuries are broken bones and the average patient is nine years old. Only about four percent of injuries involve the spine and are considered catastrophic.
In those cases, the average patient is 17 years old. Older users jump higher, with more force and take more risks. Injuries happen when jumpers collide with one another, fall off the equipment, or land awkwardly from a stunt.
It was just such a landing after a trick Austin Dodd says he's done many times before that left the 16-year-old paralyzed.
"I did a double front flip and landed on my neck," Dodd said.
"The doctors said he smashed his spinal cord pretty good. He didn't sever it, he smashed it really good, so they say he'll never walk again," said Austin's father, Bruce.
The trampoline is now put away, but the warning of the danger is clear.
"The point I would like to make is, even if you are on a trampoline with a net and the padding and everything and you think you are safe, you are not always safe," Bruce said. "New trampoline, all the padding, all the nets, still...middle of the trampoline, landed on his head and broke his neck."
It happened on June 25. Austin rang the bell, celebrating his discharge from rehabilitation on Tuesday as he headed home for the first time.
"How do you feel about me in the wheelchair?" Austin asked his bother, Collin.
"It stinks, because you love playing basketball and everything," the 14-year-old replied.
Collin was there the night Austin got hurt.
"It really scares me sometimes. Like, I get down and it makes me sad," Collin said.
"I'll stand again," Austin told him.
"Yeah, yeah. Gotta believe," Collin said.
Staying positive is the family's mantra, which means celebrating what Austin can do.
"I can feed myself, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my face," Austin said.
They are also grateful for the four churches which pooled funds and labor to build the new front door ramp at the Dodds' home in Kingman in Fountain County.
"We are going to pour a sidewalk so he can get out of the vehicle," said Tim Lyons with the Grace of God Fellowship.
They'll also pour a path so he can get back to the basketball court. Austin played point guard.
"I always will love basketball, no doubt. Very big passion of mine," he said. "At first, I was saying 'Why me?' Now, I am saying, 'Why not me? Why not?'"
The need for technology to help Austin is great - and expensive - so a fund has been set up and several events planned to help him and his family out.
You can donate to the Austin Dodd Trust Account at all Fountain Trust Bank branches. A bike run is scheduled at Farley's Corner Pub in Attica September 6 at noon and a benefit is planned for September 13th at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Veedersburg.Information about trampoline injuries