Beating the odds: paralyzed National Guardsman walks again - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Beating the odds: paralyzed National Guardsman walks again

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A man severed his spinal cord. In an MRI taken right after the accident, you can see his spinal column collapsed. Doctors say that people with these types of injuries rarely walk again.

Eight weeks-ago, while training for an upcoming cage fight, Ryan Christiansen got hurt, taken down by an opponent.

"I'm telling myself "Ryan, just move your toes, keep moving your toes," because every time I stop moving something it wouldn't work again," said Christiansen.

An MRI showed Ryan shattered his vertebrae. Doctors told him he might never walk again. They flew him to Barrow Neurological Institute and into surgery immediately.

"I'm an outdoors person, I'm in the Army, I'm a very physical person, to say somebody is going to take your legs away from you is a sick feeling," he said.

Hours after surgery, "they tried to make me do these tests where you have to touch your fingertips, and as I was trying to touch my fingers I could only get to about there. By the second day, I started to touch more, and I just kept working at it. I started moving my legs and my ankles, the doctors were looking at me like, you shouldn't be doing this stuff," said Christiansen.

"He couldn't move his left arm; he couldn't move his left leg, he couldn't walk, despite that his first words were that he wanted to fight again," said Dr. Steve Chang.

Dr. Chang is the neurosurgeon who operated on Ryan.

"I told him, you got to walk before you can fight again, and to my surprise he walked out fo the hospital five days later. Most people are in rehab for weeks and weeks, if they ever function again," he said.

Two months later, Ryan is back home in Chandler. "I'm able to jump, I'm doing jump roping, I'm doing burpees," said Christiansen.

And depending on what Dr Chang says Ryan says he plans to continue to fight if he gets the chance.

"I don't know if I'll be able to be dropped on my head, or my neck, or be choked out, and my neck has to be ok with it, but if it doesn't, I don't know. I'd die doing my sport, whatever I had to do for my sport," he said.

Ryan is so thankful to be walking again and thankful for, "my family, friends, definitely god, and Dr. Chang," he said.

Ryan has another visit with Dr. Chang in September to talk about whether he can fight again. He is the father of two young sons.
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