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Berkeley rugby player suffers paralyzing spine injury

Many California college students take both their sporting activities along with the academic studies very seriously. Unfortunately, some sports played at area colleges present a certain degree of danger. It only takes one wrong move for a sports injury to occur that affects a person's life forever.

A student at the University of California, Berkeley, has suffered a rugby injury that caused him to be paralyzed from his torso down. The incident took place at a champion rugby match in early May at Santa Clara University. While making a move during the game known as a "maul," a disc between two vertebrae located close to the bottom of his neck was thrust into his spine. His paralysis is considered to be "incomplete," since he still retains a certain amount of sensation that allows messages to be sent between his spinal cord and brain. Currently, he can manage to use his wrists a bit and has some sensation in his toes. However, his lungs and abdominal muscles were injured in the incident and are still weak, causing him to contract pneumonia.

His physicians report that it is fortunate he was injured in Santa Clara, as this meant he was sent to a nearby medical facility that specializes in spinal cord injuries. He was able to get prompt treatment, and his physicians hope that the student may one day experience more feeling in his body. So far, he underwent a decompression operation. Surgeons removed the affected disc and put a bone matrix in its place, which will give the bone in that part of his spinal cord a chance to recover. As of right now, he is trying to graduate from the critical care unit of the medical facility where he is receiving treatment to rehabilitation. At rehabilitation, he will work on increasing his strength through exercise.

This student's determination to persevere has moved the heart of his loved ones and even those that never met him. In fact, a GoFundMe account made on his behalf has already seen more than $600,000 donated to help him cope with his medical and rehabilitation costs. While this may help him during a financially difficult time of his life, it may not cover all of his damages. Individuals in California who have suffered a spine injury while playing a sport may want to speak to an attorney, to determine whether filing a lawsuit is appropriate.

Source: The Mercury News, "Cal rugby player moves toward recover after life-changing spinal injury," Yasemin Saplakoglu, May 24, 2017

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