Wrestlers expect to pick up a few bumps and bruises on the mat, but a Sartell freshman now faces a long road to recovery after an innocuous move almost left him paralyzed.
Nathan O'Brien woke up in hospital unable to move his arms or legs five hours after he was given a "fireman's carry" during a match against Sauk Rapids on January 22, FOX 9, which has footage of the incident, reports.
It was a move done on him hundreds of times before, only this time his body went limp after he landed, while his parents watched on from the sidelines.
"I remember getting out on the mat and wrestling for a little bit. And then when I hit my head it kinda went bright really quick," he told the news station. "It almost felt like I was in a dark box."
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Fortunately his paralysis is only temporary and he has slowly but surely been making a recovery, with his mother Brenda keeping his teammates updated via the Sartell Wrestling Facebook page as he regained the use of his legs.
"Nathan is taking many steps without the walker today," she said on February 1. "He is determined to be walker free this week !! Meet with rehab therapist Tuesday. So thankful he is gaining strength every day."
The freshman comes from a family of wrestlers, with his brothers Caleb and Daniel joining him on the varsity team, while his 12-year-old brother Jacob also wrestles, the St. Cloud Times reports.
He spent five days in hospital after sustaining the spinal injury, and while he is grateful to have gradually regained the use of his body, he's disappointed not to finish out the season.
The wrestler who gave O'Brien the fireman's carry has been trying to contact him to apologize. "It shows good sportsmanship and character," O'Brien's father Mark told the newspaper.