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Miracle? Paralympian Has Paralysis 'Cured' After Getting in Accident

Miracle? Paralympian Has Paralysis 'Cured' After Getting in Accident

“The fundamental truth is that accidents don’t cause damaged nerve cells to regenerate.”

Since age 13, Monique van der Vorst from the Netherlands has been paralyzed. She's made the most of it though winning the silver medal twice in the Paralympics for hand cycling, but it seems she will no longer be able to compete in the upcoming 2012 Paralympics. Why? Because she is no longer paralyzed.

Watch the ITN News report about how van der Vorst's paralysis was reversed after a crash with a bicyclist:

Now that van der Vorst, 27, isn't eligible to participate in the Paralympics, she is training as a bicyclist for the 2016 Olympics.

Doctors have lots of questions, though, about van der Vorst's miraculous recovery, according to MSNBC, stating that it is unlikely a crash would have allowed her to reverse paralysis after losing all feeling:

Van der Vorst’s doctors haven’t been able to come up with an explanation for her miraculous recovery -- and neither could any of the doctors interviewed by msnbc.com.

With the caveat that it’s impossible to comment on a specific patient without seeing actual medical records, physicians agreed that it was unlikely that anyone who had lost all feeling in their lower extremities could be healed by being hit hard in an accident.

“I have never heard of a case of damage to the spinal cord where someone lost feeling and strength in their legs and then had a second accident that gave them feeling back,” said Dr. Michael Boninger, professor and chair of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the rehabilitation institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “The fundamental truth is that accidents don’t cause damaged nerve cells to regenerate.”

Still, Boninger added, “I would have to also say that there’s a lot in medicine that we don’t know and a lot we have yet to learn.”

It seems that van der Vorst's paralysis or loss of feeling in her legs amounted from two events in her life: nerve damage after an ankle operation and a later car accident resulting in spinal damage.

MSNBC reports a neurologist saying that patients with spinal damage who are likely to recover are those who have some feeling and movement after a spinal injury. Dr. Bruce Dobkin, professor of neurology and director of the Neurologic Rehabilitation and Research Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, added that some nerves can regenerate, but can take years to regrow.

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