Doctors: Injured Shone 'a walking miracle'

Tue, 15 Nov 15:01:00 2011

Surgeons in Germany have hailed British bobsleigh rider Serita Shone 'a walking miracle' after taking her first steps following a spine fracture.

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The horror crash during a bobsleigh run at Winterberg just three weeks ago broke Shone's spinal column in half and moved it 15mm – only the second time the surgeons had ever seen a cord move more than 5mm and remain intact.

Her father, Ron, told the Daily Telegraph that Shone's recovery so far is unchartered territory for the medics.

"They said the maximum was normally between two and five millimetres before the spinal cord ruptures," he said. "The cord had also wrapped itself round some of the uprights of the vertebrae as well, so as far as they were concerned, she is a walking miracle.

"The only other operation they had done where the cord had been displaced by such a degree was not to make a person walk, because that was just too late, but to allow them to use their lower bodily functions. It was unknown territory for them."

After surviving the 80mph impact, 22-year-old Shone had two major operations to insert stabilising rods into her spine and repair the back fracture. And despite the scale of her recovery, there are still uncertainties about what her eventual mobility will be. Shone is suffering partial paralysis in one leg which could leave her without full movement and a limp.

"The doctors are suggesting that the prognosis can go one of three ways," said Ron.

"The endgame is that she will play sport again. That is the top of the pyramid, but that is a very small, narrow area.

"In the middle of the pyramid, she will be able to walk in some kind of manner.

"The third scenario is that she will always be shuffling one leg. That is the bottom of the pyramid.

"But Serita is a very, very strong and willing girl."

Shone, who had only this winter switched from the heptathlon to compete in the bobsleigh, is expected to be airlifted from Germany back to Britain to continue her rehabilitation in around a week's time.


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