Each day a miracle for boy recovering from crash - East Valley Tribune: News

Each day a miracle for boy recovering from crash

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Posted: Monday, October 13, 2008 5:37 pm | Updated: 10:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A bicycle crash in his grandparent's Gilbert back yard left Hayden Halverson paralyzed. His doctor thought the 13-year-old would never walk again.

 VIDEO: Boy recovering from devastating crash

A bicycle crash in his grandparent's Gilbert back yard left Hayden Halverson paralyzed.

His doctor thought the 13-year-old would never walk again.

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But now, almost a month after the accident, Hayden is walking slowly and steadily with the help of a walker and his physical therapists, and amazing everyone.

"I'm really glad I can walk now," said Hayden, a South Valley Junior High eighth-grader. "It was difficult to learn how to walk again."

Hayden fractured three vertebrae in his spine and had a blood clot pushing on his spinal cord after he crashed Sept. 16 while doing a jump on his bike. He landed wrong.

He was able to walk into his grandparent's house and tell them what happened. But by the time his mother, Christine Halverson, came from next door where the family lives, Hayden said he couldn't feel his legs.

He was airlifted to the trauma center at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

Hayden underwent a lengthy surgery to decompress his spinal cord, remove the blood clot, and stabilize his spine with 14 titanium screws and two rods, said Dr. Nicholas Theodore, director of the neurotrauma program and associate director of the neurosurgical residency program.

"His injuries were very serious and unstable," Theodore said. "With the multiple fractures of the spine and the blood clot pushing on his spinal cord, both together spell disaster."

However, a day or two after his surgery, Hayden began wiggling his toes. Then he started moving his legs.

"Each day has been a miracle," said Christine Halverson, a real estate agent. "I was told to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."

During a therapy session, Hayden took his first four steps. The next day, he walked 15 to 20 steps. Hayden said he was scared when he was told he might never walk again. But those fears turned to happiness after those first few steps, he said.

"It felt tiring, but fun at the same time," Hayden said.

His mother said she was overwhelmed, crying and speechless.

"Those steps are just amazing," she said. "We're hoping he can get back to being his old self again, playing basketball for the East Valley Knights, and riding his quads in the sand dunes."

Theodore said with the type of injury Hayden had, it's amazing how fast he's recovered.

"The upper thoracic spine is an unforgiving area," Theodore said. "Injuries to that area are usually complete. I didn't think at the time he would be walking again."

Now, Theodore said he expects Hayden to fully recover, and said Hayden should be able to go home this weekend.

"It's amazing to see a kid who was paralyzed to be walking again," Theodore said. "It's truly a miracle."

Hayden still has some obstacles to overcome.

He'll wear an upper-body brace for three months to help straighten his spine and heal his spinal cord.

Hayden has had to relearn how to do basic, everyday things, such as tying his shoes and putting his clothes on.

He's lifting weights to get his muscles stronger and doing exercises to learn how to maintain his balance, said Abbey Glenn, Hayden's occupational therapist.

"He's been a trooper," Glenn said. "About two weeks ago he couldn't maintain his balance without holding on to something. Now, he's doing great."

Hayden's mom credits the prayers of his family and friends and the work of the paramedics and doctors for getting the family through this experience.

"We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers," Halverson said. "We've had a huge amount of support."

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