Bouncing Back

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Monday, February 14, 2011 - 1:11pm

Gymnast makes miracle recovery after terrifying fall.

20-year-old Jorge Valdes has always been a physically active kid, a natural gymnast, but the fact that he's able to walk today is a miracle.

Just last week Jorge was in his element, doing flips in the gym.

"I was trying out a double front flip with a full twist, and I got lost in the air, and I landed directly on my head," he recalls. "I just remembered feeling like fire through my whole body, pain shooting through my arms and my legs."

Jorge had dislocated his neck and was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami where doctors did immediate surgery.

They also cooled his body for 48 hours using a hypothermia treatment to reduce swelling in his spinal cord.

It worked, and doctors say he won't even need rehab.

"For somebody with a complete spinal cord injury, where you have no motor and sensory function below the level of your injury, to be walking out of the hospital a week later is incredible," said Dr. Steven Vanni.

"When I was able to move my legs, I started crying," Jorge said. "I started crying because I knew I was going to be able to walk after that."

Jorge had been practicing to pursue his dream of trying out for Cirque du Soleil.

While he hasn't given up on that goal, he now says a career in physical therapy has piqued his interest.
 

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