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 mov