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Surgeon: Jablonski 'Can’t Expect Much Recovery'

Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore hockey player Jack Jablonski underwent spinal surgery on Wednesday.

An emotional Hennepin County Medical Center neurosurgeon said Thursday that it will "take a miracle" for Jack Jablonski to regain use of his arms, hands and legs.

Jablonski, a 16-year-old sophomore hockey player at , was paralyzed by a hit he took in a junior varsity game on Dec. 30. Dr. Walter Galicich performed a two-and-a-half hour surgery on Jablonski Wednesday, fusing together vertebrae in his neck, which will stabilize his spine and allow damaged ligaments to heal.

"Unfortunately, at the time of surgery, everything that we saw was as we expected from the imaging we had beforehand," Galicich said. “It's a severe spinal cord injury.

"At this point, I can’t honestly expect much of a recovery.”

Galicich said Jablonski currently has a little movement in his right shoulder and bicep, but no movement in his hands or legs. The surgery should allow Jablonski to eventually sit up and move his head and neck around, but he will likely be wheelchair-bound. Galicich said the slight bicep movement might be enough to allow Jablonski to drive his wheelchair and feed himself.

“God willing, there will be some improvement over the next few weeks, but at this point we really haven’t seen any significant improvement and unfortunately we don’t expect him to get much function back,” Galicich said. “Hopefully (Jack) proves me wrong. I would like nothing better.”

The neurosurgeon said Jablonski will likely stay in intensive care for another day or two before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility. Rehab will likely last several months as Jablonski learns to deal with his limited mobility.

“It’s a tough road to hoe,” Galicich said. “There will be a lot of hard work ahead of him learning to cope with this.”

Galicich commended Jablonski's family and friends for their outpouring of support, and encouraged people to keep it up.

“Jack is going to need that support," he said, "not only now but, believe me, months down the road when everything settles down.”

Robin Scholer January 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I would encourage anyone who is going tor each out to this young man and his family to please put a reminder in your calendar to reach out again down the road. How about a monthly reminder for a note of encouragement or an offer of help to the family? It would be a shame if all the community support disappears once this is no longer a news story.
Michael Rose (Editor) January 06, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Very well said, Robin. As Dr. Galicich put it, “Jack is going to need that support, not only now but, believe me, months down the road when everything settles down.”
Carolyn Kaehr January 06, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Let's not forget Jack's younger brother, as he will need a lot of support and show of friendship also. Sometimes siblings can be inadvertently "left out" in family situations with this type of trauma.

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