Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player who was paralyzed in a game in 2011, raised hope in his recovery Monday when he posted a video showing him ever so slightly moving his toes on command.
Though he has previously reported feelings of pain or other sensations in the lower portion of his body, Monday’s post showed video evidence of movement in his toes. Jablonski said in an interview that therapists were able to feel him activate muscles such as hip flexors and glutes during an assessment in May, but “the toes moving is obvious.”
Jablonski, now 22, said the video was taken while he was on his family’s deck in Minneapolis on the Fourth of July. He tries to move his toes periodically, he said. His left foot didn’t move, but then:
“The right three toes were twitching on command as I was trying to flex them,” he said.
He called the movement “surreal” and said it’s great to see his hard work paying off.
Jablonski has continued physical therapy since his injury, keeping his muscles strong.
The tweeted progress is an indication that his spinal cord injury might not be complete, as doctors once thought, he said. That also gives him more optimism that someday he can benefit from epidural stimulation. Still in the study phase, the treatment involves implanting stimulators on spines and giving some paralyzed patients new function.
Jablonski’s foundation, the Bel13ve In Miracles Foundation, is raising money for that research.
He is a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in communications with a minor in sports media. He interns for the L.A. Kings hockey team doing a podcast.