By Jennifer Earl, ,
Published July 11, 2018
Paralyzed hockey player Jack Jablonski took a shot on the Fourth of July and scored when he tried — and succeeded — wiggling his toes.
Jablonski was a 16-year-old high school sophomore at Benilde St. Margaret’s in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, when he suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury after he was checked head-first into boards and broke his neck during a junior varsity hockey game in December 2011.
Doctors told Jablonski he was paralyzed from the chest down and would never walk again. Despite physical therapy, Jablonski did not regain any movement in his lower body — until recently.
Jablonski, a senior at University of Southern California, said he was sitting on the deck with his feet up to prevent swelling on July 4 when he attempted to make his toes move.
"I started with the left foot and had no luck. Then tried the right. As I was trying to curl my toes down the outside three toes would twitch and flicker as I would attempt to do it," Jablonski told Fox News.
Jablonski was so shocked by his dancing toes that he decided to film the "surreal" moment. He posted the 20-second clip on Twitter Monday.
"Moving my toes on my own on my command," Jablonski tweeted, along with the video which has been viewed more than 360,000 times.
Despite his grim diagnosis, Jablonski said he was always confident he would recover some movement in his legs.
"I’ve always believed that I’ll walk again so yes, but to actually see it happen is what makes it so special," he added.
This ability, in Jablonski's eyes, proves his spinal cord may not be "completely severed," as doctors initially said.
"It was another sign that that is not case," he commented.
There's still a long road ahead, but Jablonski is going to continue his strict physical therapy regimen — three-and-a-half hours, three days a week — going and seek out other medical opinions with the hope that one day he'll be back on his feet.
"With the progress we’re seeing in the medical and scientific world it gives me hope to keep working hard in physical therapy and keep trying to prove the doctors wrong," Jablonski said, adding that he's currently in a great place and seeing progress.