A Minnesota high school wrestler who became paralyzed after a freak accident during a match has learned to walk again, and now he is urging others not to rely on sport to carry them through life.
Nathan O’Brien, a freshman wrestler in Sartell, Minn., was put into a legal “fireman’s carry” by his opponent when his body went limp, Fox 9 reported.
“I remember getting out on the mat and wrestling for a little bit. And then when I hit my head, it kind of went bright really quick,” O’Brien told Fox 9. “It almost felt like I was in a dark box.”
O’Brien suffered a spinal injury that doctors compared to a concussion. The incident left him temporarily paralyzed, and when he awoke in the hospital hours later, he couldn’t move his arms or legs.
“I could move my fingers and toes a little bit,” O’Brien said. “As the days went on, I got more and more mobility and strength back.”
O’Brien still attends physical therapy three times a week, and although he’s learned to walk again, doctors told him his wrestling days are through. Doctors warned O’Brien that if he were to reinjure himself he could face permanent paralysis.
His two older brothers are still on the wrestling team, and his father wrestled in college, and they don’t want his injury to scare others away from the sport.
O’Brien said the injury taught him not to take anything for granted.
“Life is short. No matter how much you practice for something, accidents happen,” he told Fox 9. “Don’t rely on your athletics to take you through life because they can be taken away in a split second.”