Jablonski inspires many with recovery from spinal cord injury
Sports fans around the country will hear about the longevity of 30-something-year-olds who still thrive in the NBA All-Star game this Sunday. In another sport, at another venue, a young man is recovering from an injury that prematurely ended his hockey career.
Jack Jablonski sustained a spinal cord injury during a high school hockey game on Dec. 30, 2011. The neurosurgeon who operated on Jablonski said he fears Jablonski will never walk again after diagnosing Jablonski with a severed spinal cord that leaves him paralyzed from the elbows down. But Jablonski does not let the poor prognosis stop him.
“Things are going great,” Jablonski said in a recent interview with NHL.com. “I’ve been able to activate a lot of muscles in my lower body that weren’t expected. I’ve definitely been able to just get some muscles moving down in the lower body — toes, ankles, glutes, quads, hamstrings. So it’s definitely positive in the sense that this was never expected and I was able to surpass it so quickly.”
The 17-year-old has also become the student-assistant coach to his high school hockey team, Benilde-St.Margaret Red Knights, and he is getting back to as normal of a 17-year-old’s life as possible.
“Being able to do an extracurricular like hockey is obviously an honor to be a part of the program, and coaching is the second-best option at the time,” Jablonski said.
Jablonski inspired the BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation, which hopes to advance treatment of spinal cord injuries. Over $50,000 has been raised for ABLE program scholarships, which are overseen by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network.
“I could care less if I can walk. As long as I can skate again, and I will, I don’t care how far along the road it is. But I will skate, and that is my goal,” said Jablonski in the weeks following the incident in a video for NHL.com.
And even if he does not skate, Jablonski has many plans for the life still ahead of him. Possible career paths later on? A broadcaster or a coach, he said.