Sam Willoughby details crash, spine injury, long road to recovery (video)
A determined Sam Willoughby detailed his Sept. 10 BMX training crash that left him with no feeling below his chest and provided an update on his rehab in a recent TV interview.
Willoughby, a 2012 Australian Olympic silver medalist, landed on his head while riding, fracturing his C6 and C7 vertebrae at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
“Unfortunately, I remember everything,” Willoughby said from his Denver hospital in an Australia “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday. “I remember kind of losing my balance and being upside down, and then I remember just laying on the floor. I could see my leg to one side, but I couldn’t feel it. I was in no pain. I just couldn’t feel. I laid there for a bit, and then my arms went away.
“I didn’t hear anything. So I know that some people said they hear their neck break, they here a crack. I didn’t hear anything. And then people came over. And obviously everyone that was over there was trying to be really positive and calm me down. I’m not stupid. I felt like I knew what had happened.”
Willoughby said he has regained full movement in his arms, has weak movement in his hands and has spasms and sensations in his toes and legs when they’re touched.
Willoughby has said in the last month that it’s his goal to walk his fiancée, U.S. Olympic BMX silver medalist Alise Post, down the aisle at their wedding next year.
“I’ve got the world riding on my back, and it’s my job to stand up,” he said.
A doctor who leads spinal-cord rehabilitation teams at Willoughby’s hospital said it’s unknown if he’ll be able to walk again.
“I’m optimistic that hopefully he’ll get some of those movement signals coming through here in the next few months, but, really, there’s no way we can tell how much he’s going to recover,” Dr. Morgan Brubaker said.
Updates on Willoughby and an opportunity to donate are available here.