When most people think of gymnastics, they think of the high-flying acrobatics of the Olympics, last seen this summer by the gold medal-winning Fierce Five. However, the sport can be every bit as dangerous as hard-hitting contact sports like lacrosse and hockey.
A competitive gymnast Jacoby Miles, at just 15 years old, is in for the fight of her life after a misstep on the uneven bars has left her paralyzed from the chest down.
On Friday, Miles stepped up to the uneven bars at her gym in Puyallup, Washington, to practice a routine that she had successfully done a hundred times before. While she spun through the air, she told her coach later that she "[got] lost" before the second flip. Miles fell to the ground onto her neck, with only an eight-inch mat to cushion her fall. She lost feeling from chest down immediately.
Miles was taken to a nearby hospital in Tacoma, Washington, where a CT scan informed doctors that she had dislocated, rather than severed, her C4 vertebrae. While that leaves the door open to recovery, doctors say that, if Miles is able to walk again, it would be a miracle.
Gymnastics is an extremely popular sport, with three million children taking classes every year. However, it is also dangerous; 25,000 of those children end up in the emergency room for injuries every year. Some of the injuries are the result of the expected wear and tear of putting stress on the same muscles over and over again, but some, like Miles' case, are the result of a slight misstep.
Miles' case is extremely rare and unfortunate, however. Her coach Melanie Roach said to ABC News that she searched in gyms across the country and found only three other cases. "I think the chances of winning the lottery are actually more likely, that's how rare this is," she said.
Still, it likely does not comfort Miles or her family to know the rarity of her situation. Doctors say that she has regained feeling in her arms, and she may be able to move her wrists.
For her parents, they say that the most difficult part of the ordeal is the uncertainty of knowing what kind of life their daughter will lead now. Her mother Gretchen wondered if she would be able to work and have her own family.
Regardless, her parents say that they believe that her drive will help her overcome the situation. They hope for a full recovery, though they know that chances are slim.
"We have to prepare mentally for the worst and pray for the best," her father Jason told KOMO News. "I know God has big plans for her."
For updates on or donations toward Jacoby's recovery, click here.
Published by Medicaldaily.com