From Football to Rehab to Walking

Erin Saari“I was always an athlete,” says Erin Saari, 33, a former member of the Halifax Xplosion, a female football team in Nova Scotia, Canada. “I’ve been playing sports since I was just a young pup.” But in August 2016 Saari’s athletic lifestyle was put on hold when she broke her neck after a dive into a pool. “I immediately knew something was terribly wrong. I was conscious and tried to stand up, but I couldn’t move my legs.”

Fortunately, her partner, Chris, was there. “When I awoke Chris was asking me if I could move or feel anything. I had sensation in most areas, but no movement. I knew I was paralyzed.” Saari was diagnosed with a C4 incomplete injury at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre. “In the first two weeks after my injury,” she says, “I was unsure of what to think. I didn’t know there was a possibility of a real recovery after paralysis.”

But like many with incomplete injuries, she began to see return below her level of injury rather soon. “After the first subtle movement of my left thigh (28 days post-injury) I thought and said out loud, ‘I got this