A brave teen has shown doctors that horse riding can be an effective way to overcome paralysis, CNN reports.
Two years ago, Krystal Greco had just stepped out of the shower when she suddenly felt an “explosion of pain” in her lower back. After being rushed to the hospital, the teenager learned that she had suffered from a ruptured disk which had bruised her spinal cord. “I was tested numerous times to establish why my disk ruptured, but the cause was never determined. All they could tell me was that I was paralyzed from the waist down,” Greco, now 16, wrote in a blog post for CNN.
An avid horseback rider from the age of 4, Greco was devastated. “It never occurred to me that a day might come when I wouldn’t be able to ride,” she said.
But CNN reports that thanks to an innovative form of physical therapy called ‘hippotherapy’ — which in Greco’s case involves therapeutic horse riding — the teen is not only back on the saddle, but has started the journey of getting back on her feet. More than six months after her paralysis, Greco began riding horses as part of the Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program in Port Deposit, Md.
Greco said it was challenging at first, but before long, she was riding unaided. Incredibly, within 5 months of starting hippotherapy, Greco was able to move her legs for the first time. According to CecilDaily.com, by 2011, the teenager was not only competing in — but winning — horse shows. Her doctors say her recovery has been “remarkable”.
Greco, who believes that the therapeutic horse riding played a central role in her recovery, still cannot walk unaided but has regained some sensation in her legs and can now move her hip and toes. The teen hopes that she will one day be back on her feet. “I’m pushing myself harder and harder to get to where I want to be because I eventually do want to walk again and I can see that mentally as a realistic goal,” she told CNN.
Now a volunteer at Freedom Hills, Greco hopes that her story will inspire others who have disabilities. “Having a spinal cord injury doesn’t have to mean an end to the hobbies and sports that you love — it just means having a view from a different angle,” she said.