L48 — November 2011 — Football Spinal Cord Injury
Intro: It wasn't supposed to happen. A freak accident during a college football game leaves a player paralyzed. Doctors gave him a three percent chance of regaining any movement in his arms or legs. But Chris Norton didn't let that stop him. With incredible perseverance, a positive attitude and the refusal to give up, Chris has made amazing progress. And he's still part of the football team, inspiring his teammate to be their best.
I was on the kickoff team. Running down to tackle the ball carrier.
That's when freshman defensive back Chris Norton's injury happened.
I got my neck hyperextended backwards.
The next thing you know our quarterback goes "Coach, I think Chris is on the field." And then it's like, your heart stops.
I was conscious the whole time. I was just thinking it was a bad stinger, just like, my body went numb and it will slowly come back. They were talking about getting a helicopter set up to take me to Mayo. That's when I knew it was pretty serious.
It's tough for Chris' mom and dad to re-live that event.
You don't know what to think or feel or do.
As a father you're devastated.
It kind of hits you — oh, he's not just hurt in a football game. This is big.
It didn't seem real.
Dr. Ronald Reeves says at first they suspected a complete spinal cord injury, meaning Chris would gain little if any function back.
A few weeks after Chris' accident, it became clear that his injury was healing, and his injury type was reclassified as an incomplete injury.
Still, the odds were stacked against him. But Chris, who's known for his work ethic and love of competition, took the challenge and isn't stopping.
I'm seeing improvement all the time.
Lori Eaton is one of several physical therapists who's been working with Chris for over a year.
Initially, the outcomes they were giving him were pretty bleak, and he's just amazed all of us. He's an athlete. He was trained to compete, and this is the biggest competition of his life and he's winning.
And here — a year after the injury on the gridiron, Chris is back. Back at Luther College as a full-time student and back with his teammates prepping for a game.
It's exhilarating to tell you the truth. It's exciting to see that he's able to do so much now, and he's making progress every day.
Chris Norton, or Nordy, as the guys call him, is honorary team captain.
I want to talk to you guys about being able to compete. There's nothing I miss more than competition. There's no greater feeling than winning. I want you guys to go out there, fly around, make some plays, have fun, but win. Win today.
Here we go. 1,2,3. Thanks Nordy.
And as Chris' teammates take him onto the field, his family, fans and friends are there to cheer him on.
He's standing strong on legs that, months before, did not work. (Cheers.)
It was a really good feeling to see him stand for the national anthem.
Honorary co-captain Chris Norton (Cheers.)
And then again for the coin toss to start the game.
It's a testimony to his faith, his determination, his dedication to overcome.
So it means a lot to me to be able to be out here and be with the team.
Winning and moving forward every day.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
There's no way to know how far Chris will go. But everyone agrees that his success at overcoming his injury has everything to do with his strength, perseverance, courage and a team full of people who love him.
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