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Paralyzed gymnast reassures friends, ‘It’s all gonna be okay’

Jacoby Miles, who was paralyzed two weeks ago in a gymnastics accident, thanks supporters for their prayers and cards. More than $63,000 has been donated to a fund to help with the Puyallup teen's recovery and physical therapy efforts. (Photo courtesy the Miles family)

Smiling from her hospital bed, Jacoby Miles tries to reassure people who’ve heard about her gymnastics injury that we don’t need to worry about her.

“I just want to say that it’s all gonna be okay and that I’m in God’s hands and he has a reason for all this,” Jacoby says. “It’s all gonna be okay and you don’t have to worry.”

The 15-year-old was paralyzed from the chest down after landing on her neck during a practice at her Sumner gym two weeks ago.

Jacoby has been moved to Seattle Children’s Hospital where she’s started physical therapy. Her parents have been keeping a public blog. Their latest entry:

Jacoby had a pretty good day, today. Her overall pain level has become easier to regulate, so she is able to focus more on rehab. She was able to stay in the chair for about 3 hours today without the nauseous feeling that plagued her the last couple of days! It’s a mental roller coaster for her, but she is handling it like a champ. Thanks to all for the cards filled with encouraging words. Jacoby thoroughly enjoys reading them!

Miles talked with KING 5 News and thanked people from all over the world for their support over the past two weeks.

“I’m just so grateful for all the cards and all the love and care that people have just shown,” she says. “It’s just been a blessing.”

One of those cards of support came from 3,355 miles away.

Jorge Valdes, read about Jacoby on my blog earlier this week. The Miami, Florida resident knows exactly how Jacoby’s parents feel.

Valdes’s son, named Jorge, was a champion gymnast training for an audition with Cirque du Soleil. He’s done a double-front flip with a one-and-a-half twist countless times.

Two years ago was his last time. He “got lost” in the air and landed on his head.

“I was terrified. I was feeling intense pain,” says Jorge.

He lost feeling in one leg, then the other. Soon he couldn’t feel anything below his waist. By the time he arrived in the hospital he had no feeling below his neck.

His parents were told the chances of him walking again were slim to none, but doctors in Miami tried a hypothermic treatment that’s been shown to prevent paralysis in some cases.

The relatively new procedure cools the body down to 92.3 degrees Fahrenheit (normal body temperature is 98.7). Cooling reduces the amount of swelling and inflammation on the spinal cord to help prevent further damage. That’s important because the spinal cord exists in a closed environment and has no room to swell which then can lead to paralysis.

“We were told that at some point in time with therapy that he would someday, possibly, be able to regain the ability to walk,” Jorge’s father says. “How well he would be able to walk, with what kind of assistance, was unknown.”

One week later, the young man walked out of the hospital on his own. He’s coaching gymnastics again. When I talked with him yesterday, he had just completed another double-front flip.

“It’s gonna be hard for Jacoby, but all she can do is stay positive,” he says, “She can do it.”

Jorge Sr. is reaching out to Jacoby’s mom and dad too.

“My advice to them,” he says fighting back tears, “Never lose hope. In my son’s darkest moments when he believed he would never walk again, I let him know that no matter what his parents, his family will always be next to him, and we’ll never stop loving him.”

More than 1,600 people have contributed to an account set up to help with Jacoby’s recovery and therapy. That fund now tops $68,000 and an auction is planned for Jacoby on December 17 in Tacoma.


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