Athlete walks after severe gymnastics accident

MIAMI (WSVN) - Against all odds, a South Florida athlete powered through the pain to get back on his feet.

Jorge Valdes spent his life training as a gymnast, however, a gym accident almost changed his life. “I literally though it threw my life away. All the training I had done my whole life to be gone in minute,” Valdes said.”

The tumbling run that changed his life is etched in his memory. “And on that last turn, I mistimed it and took a bad hit where I pretty much scorpioned while spinning on my head,” Valdes said. “I felt like a crunch — I felt like an electrical shock through my body and then I felt heat.”

“When we went to catscan, it did show that he had a cervical spine fracture and it was involving the spinal cord,” said Daniel Aguiar.

Aguiar was one of the trauma nurses at Jackson Memorial Hospital Ryder Trauma Center when Valdes arrived.

Valdes was put into an induced coma for two days. “They said there was a potential for a response because they tried an experimental treatment on you,” Valdes said.

“They did an emergency surgery to repair the bones in the spine, his cervical spine,” said Aguiar.

On his sixth day in the hospital Valdes defied expectations, instructions by therapists not to push too far, too fast… and walked. “Not very coordinated, but I was up on my feet,” Aguiar said. “On the seventh day, I was able to walk out of the hospital.”

It turns out his training in gymnastics prepared him for a very different sort of challenge. “You have to be courageous, but at the same time, you can’t be overconfident,” Valdes said. “You have to be able to face fear, you have to be able to fight through pain you have to be able to focus.”

Valdes had his family and an entire trauma team pulling for him. Though his gymnastics career is over, he has hopes the gymnasts he’s training today can work to become a part of a different kind of team. “I think it’s all of our dreams as athletes we look up to olympians,” Valdes said. “Stay strong you have to stay positive and keep fighting.”

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