Lawn slides are a classic icon of summertime fun. These devices send children whipping at high speeds down slick sheets of plastic, almost like an instant waterslide for your yard. It’s a thrilling way to get a rush while staying cool in the heat, but lawn slides can also pose serious safety hazards. If your family has one of these classic summertime toys boxed away in the garage, you may want to think twice before setting it up this season. As our Oklahoma City spinal cord injury lawyers investigate here, “Slip ‘N Slides” can create a major hazard for paralysis injuries, especially for teenagers and adults.
CPSC: Inflatable Lawn Slip ‘N Slides Are Paralysis Risk for Teenagers and Adults
Americans were first introduced to the Slip ‘N Slide by manufacturer WHAM-O in 1961. This simple inflatable toy has been a summer staple nearly ever since, though its history isn’t without dark spots.
In 1993, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — a federal regulatory agency responsible for “protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products” — issued a press release warning American consumers about the dangers of these popular toys. According to the press release (which you can view in full on the CPSC recall list), about 9 million Slip ‘N Slides manufactured by WHAM-O and its parent company, Kransco, were identified as paralysis hazards for adults and teenagers. The press release issued the following warning:
“Use by adults and teens has the potential to result in neck injury and paralysis. Because of their weight and height, adults and teenagers who dive onto the water slide may hit and abruptly stop in such a way that could cause permanent spinal cord injury, resulting in quadriplegia or paraplegia. The slider’s forward momentum drives the body into the neck and compresses the spinal cord.”
Between 1973 and 1991, seven adults and one teenager suffered spinal cord injuries and neck injuries caused by lawn slides. However, the teenaged victim was only 13 years old — not 18 or 19 as one might assume based on the press release — and, according to WHAM-O’s website, various lawn slide models including the 16-foot Wave Rider, 16-foot Surf Rider, and 15-foot Hydroplane are all intended for use by children as old as 12, who can easily be as tall and heavy as 13-year-olds.
While the Slip ‘N Slide was temporarily banned, the toy has since made a comeback, returning to lawns across Oklahoma and the United States. Today, you can easily find one at your local Walmart, Toys “R” Us, or any number of other retailers that sell children’s products.
Levels of Spinal Cord Injury and Cervical Fracture (Broken Neck)
The spinal cord and spinal column, which both relate to paralysis injuries, are sometimes confused. The spinal column (backbone) consists of small bones called vertebrae, which alternate with spongy pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers. The spinal cord, which is a separate anatomical structure, is a long bundle of nerves that runs down the spinal column, functioning to carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body while the spine provides physical support and flexibility.
When the vertebrae in the neck or back are fractured — one of the most common back injuries in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and various other types of accidents — the spinal cord can be severed or crushed, resulting in paralysis. The extent of paralysis depends largely on where the spinal cord is injured. As a general rule, the higher the injury is located, the greater the resulting loss of mobility. To describe different levels of spinal cord injury, doctors use the following labels:
- Cervical (Neck)
- C1, C2, C3, C4 (High-Cervical) — These injuries result in full-body paralysis, which is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. The patient will need full-time care and will require assistance with basic daily tasks. He or she may be unable to breathe without a respiratory device.
- C5, C6, C7, C8 (Low-Cervical) — The victim will be paralyzed from the chest down. They may, however, retain some control over their elbows and shoulders. Patients with C7 and C8 injuries may be able to move their fingers or hold objects.
- Thoracic (Mid-Back)
- T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 — Patients generally have control over their arms and hands, but are paralyzed from the trunk down. Driving may be possible with some vehicle modifications.
- T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T11, T12 — Patients are generally paralyzed from the waist down, which is called paraplegia. However, standing or walking may be possible with braces or other medical equipment.
- Lumbar (Lower Back)
- L1, L2, L3, L4, L5 — Patients are generally able to walk, but lose some strength and mobility in their hips and legs. They may require braces or a wheelchair.
- Sacral (Lower Back)
- S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 — Patients are typically able to walk again, but may have reduced control over their legs and hips. Patients may also be incontinent.
Our Lawyers in OKC Have the Experience to Handle Your Case
If your son or daughter suffered a neck injury or spinal cord injury in Oklahoma, call the experienced Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040 to set up a free legal consultation. If your child’s injury was caused by another person’s negligence — for example, a careless babysitter who left your child alone instead of supervising them during playtime — your family may be able to get compensated for medical bills and other expenses.