Paralyzed teen walks on legs he can’t feel

Published: December 15, 2015  |  Source: khou.com  | Spinal Cord Injury:
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HOUSTON — Daquan Minor is a walking miracle — especially since he’s walking on legs and feet he can no longer feel.

“We were speeding. It was a wet day. Flipped three to five times, and that was it,” Minor recalled of the 2013 car crash in Humble that left him trapped where he was riding in the backseat.

Minor, 19, and his friends survived. But he suffered a fractured skull and a T-6 incomplete spinal cord injury that required vertebrae be fused. He awoke from life-saving surgery unable to feel anything from the belly button down.

“Can’t feel my feet. Can’t feel my legs,” he told us at TIRR Memorial Hermann where he endured months of rehabilitation. But eventually he surprised doctors — and himself — when he told his nurses that he thought he might actually be able to take a few steps.

“I took a few steps and she was shocked because the goal was just to stand up,” he said.

“I use my eyes to walk. I watch the floor. As long as I’m still looking at the floor, I’m good. If I was to stand up in a dark room I would fall. If I stand up and close my eyes I would fall, my legs would give out.”

“Well, it’s a really unusual scenario,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Clinical Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann. “It’s very uncommon. Most of my patients who do walk again after spinal cord injury, they have some sensation. And so I would imagine it takes Daquan an enormous amount of concentration to focus on where his legs are in space.”

But for a former three-sport high school athlete who is now a top-ranked 19-year-old wheelchair athlete, they’re not surprised by his drive.

“We have a lot of people here who do not have the same kind of neurological recovery that he has,” said Davis. “That doesn’t mean that they’re finished with their lives. They can still move on to have a valuable contribution to the communities around them.”

“If you play against a team, you know, that’s your rival you play extra hard. So I was like I’m going to work harder,” said Minor.

And his hard work now includes working as a volunteer at TIRR Memorial Hermann, often counseling other patients in the rehab and therapy programs. Now a student at Lone Star Community College, he has goals for a master’s degree in occupational therapy so that he can eventually work at TIRR and continue to be an inspiration to others.

“A lot of patients wish they were in my situation just to be able to stand up, you know, and take steps. And that’s why I say if the sensation doesn’t come back, hey I’m alright with it,” he said.

Which is why he says he has no regrets about the accident that damaged his spinal cord. Whether he can feel his legs and feet or not, he still feels the wreck put his life on a better path.

“Looking back at it, I’m glad it happened, you know, I don’t regret it. It has me on this new path. I’m helping out others. I’m trying to be more in life. I’m not settling for the bare minimum.”

So on any given day in the Texas Medical Center you might find Daquan Minor, either in his wheelchair or balanced carefully on legs he still can’t feel, moving forward as a medical miracle – hoping to help others step toward their miracles too.

Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News