14-year-old Richland girl recovering from spinal cord injury after tumbling accident
The parents of a Richland teenager hurt in a gymnastics accident spoke yesterday of their hopes for her recovery from a spinal cord injury.
“We’re praying and we’re optimistic that she will walk again,” said Claire Senita’s mother, Emily.
She spoke during a news briefing at Children’s Hospital, the family’s first since Claire, 14, was hurt a week earlier.
She was injured around her fifth and sixth Cervical Vertebrae and had surgery to relieve pressure on her spinal cord, which was not severed, her mother said. She was initially in critical condition and was upgraded to fair condition yesterday.
“There’s likely a long road ahead of Rehabilitation and learning to use the function she has remaining,” said Claire’s father, Joe, who did not provide details on her Functional abilities.
Claire, who is in the eighth grade at Pine-Richland Middle School, was performing a gymnastics maneuver May 9 at Trinity Gymnastics, formerly Northland Sports Training Center, when she was injured.
Dennis McGrath, a coach at the gymnastics facility, said earlier that Claire was performing a forward roll, which involves crouching down, tucking the head toward the chest and rolling over while not placing weight on the head.
He said Claire, a beginning gymnast, had been in a weekly recreational trampoline and tumbling class since September and had performed two sets of forward rolls before the injury occurred.
“There was a roll and she missed it,” Mr. Senita said yesterday, noting that he was still unclear about exactly what had happened.
Mrs. Senita said the injury occurred near the end of a warm-up.
“It was really just an unfortunate accident,” she said.
Mrs. Senita said Claire and several other girls had decided to get involved in recreational gymnastics “to get more limber and in shape and do something fun.”
She also has been involved in an a cappella choir, track and field and other activities, the family said.
Mrs. Senita said that since her injury, Claire has had physical, occupational and respiratory therapy to get her stronger and more stable.
Her husband said they did not know how long Claire might be in the hospital. After she is released, he said she would likely be moved to a rehabilitation facility.
Claire’s brother George, 17, also appeared at the news conference. She also has a sister Molly, 4.
Mr. Senita said they were encouraged Sunday when Claire laughed for the first time since the accident.
He asked for continued prayers for her and for the rest of the family.
“She’s doing a little better every day,” he said, “but she’s by no means out of the woods.”
Contributions can be sent to Claire O. Senita in care of Mars National Bank, 5552 William Flynn Highway, P.O. Box 126, Gibsonia, PA 15044.
(Joe Fahy can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1722. )
By Joe Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette