Jack Jablonski, 16, Moves Arms Against All Odds After Severe HS Hockey Injuries

 @julia_greenberg
on January 09 2012 5:32 PM
Jack Jablonski
Jack Jablonski, the 16-year-old high school hockey player who severely injured his spinal cord during a game on Dec. 30, has received a shower of support and visits by famous hockey stars since his traumatic accident. Jablonski has been named Perani's Hockey World National Player of the Week for the first week of January 2012. Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky called the young hockey player. Facebook

While doctors claimed that Jack Jablonski would never walk again, the 16-year-old high school hockey player, who severely injured his spinal cord during a game, has made great strides in recovery and is already moving his arms.

The Minneapolis teenager collapsed on the hockey ring two weeks ago after two opposing high school players slammed him into boards during a hockey game on Dec. 30. The hockey forward suffered severe bruising to his spinal cord after scoring his first and only goal for his junior varsity team.

Eight days since the game, Jablonski has moved his arms, can flex his left elbow and can move his right arm away from his body, all movements doctors initially did not think he would be able to do following the accident.

Jack was able to move arms, his mother, Leslie, told Fox 9. That really isn't possible.

Jablonski's spinal cord was severed at the neck and he is unable to move his legs, but has slight movement in his hands, right arm and shoulders. Doctors do not expect he will be able to walk or use his legs again.

The honor student is more hopeful of his future and his mother reports that he has kept his sense of humor.

Alright, when can I strap up my skates? Jablonski allegedly asked his mother after moving his arms  KAAL-TV reports.

Jablonski's team, the Benilde - St. Margaret Varisty hockey team, played their first game since his injuries on Saturday. The team held a moment of silence for the 16-year-old and Jablonski's younger brother stood on the ice wearing his brother's jersey.

The former high school hockey player's serious injuries will require support for months as he learns to live with his injuries. He has had two surgeries in the past week to correct an artery in his neck to prevent a stroke and to fuse his fifth and sixth vertebrae together in a serious spinal surgery.

He's got a tremendous amount of recuperative abilities because of his young age, Galicich told the StarTribune. He's a terrific kid, and obviously he and his family are devastated by this tragedy.

Galicich claims the injuries suffered are more common that one might think. Hennepin County Medical Center has handled more than 60 severe spinal cord trauma cases in the past four years.

Unfortunately, we're dealing with families in this situation on a weekly basis, he said. Galicich believes Jablonski's injuries were caused when he tucked his chin after being checked from behind into a board at a high school hockey game.

It's a parent's worst nightmare. He dropped and didn't move. Right then and there I knew that my son, that there was something seriously wrong. It was a very hard hit, Mike Jablonski told the Star Tribune.  

Leslie Jablonski, however, told Fox 9 that she does not blame the Wayzata players involved in the injury and holds no ill will towards them. She worries about how they are coping with the accident and claims they have checked in frequently on her son.

Nonetheless, Jablonski's injuries have provoked outrage and requests that the level of physical contact in youth hockey games be reduced.

This is one of the reasons why USA Hockey legislated checking out of peewee hockey, said Lou Nanne, a former NHL player and general manager considered by many to be the dean of Minnesota hockey, told the Star Tribune. For all those people who wonder why, now you know why.''

Jablonski is facing a long recovery that many believe could have been avoided if stricter rules were enforced in youth hockey. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that body checking be banned under the age of 15, but in Minnesota it is allowed above the age of 12.

The checking seems to be a hot issue. This can be avoided. In two seconds, our lives just changed. All of our lives changed, Jablonski's mother, Leslie, told the Star Tribune. We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again. And if they keep playing the game the way it is, there's going to be more attacks in situations like this.

U.S. emergency room visits for ice hockey-related injuries for teens 14 to 19 rose from 2,935 in 1990 to 7,713 in 2006. Although hockey-related injuries can occur from a number of incidents, there has been increased encouragement for young players to be aggressive on the ice.

There's a big difference between hitting and checking, and there is more malicious hitting going on in the last year, said Keith Hendrickson, an amateur scout for the Buffalo Sabres NHL team, told the Star Tribune. Nobody condones it, but all I hear from coaches is, 'Body! Body! Body!'''

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