Indianapolis boy takes his first steps to recovery after internal decapitation

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 4, 2015)-- A boy who was critically injured in a car crash in June was told by doctors he may never walk again. Now, he is on his way to a miraculous recovery.

“This is an injury that a few years ago you would not have been able to survive,” said Doctor Dan Fulkerson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

John Rogers, 11, was paralyzed from an internal spine injury back in June after he was involved in a horrific car crash on Indy’s southeast side. The crash was caused by a suspect on the run from police. One of his relatives was killed in the crash and his mother was also injured. Rogers was told he would not be able to walk again, after suffering from an internal decapitation in the spine.

“At first they did not know if he was going to walk or not. Then he started moving his left arm and leg,” said the boy's dad, Daniel Rogers.

The tragic crash left the once active and agile 11-year-old boy hospitalized for months, suffering from the brain and spine injury. Doctors say John’s brain was extremely swollen and his MRI scans show that he had severe bleeding between the bottom of the skull and the top of the spine where his head was detached.

“There was bleeding in the area, which led us to believe there had been damage to the tissue and ligaments,” said Doctor Laurie Ackerman, ​a pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley Hospital.

John is now miraculously taking his first steps since June, relying on a walker for help. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health say he is getting stronger every week.

“You have to have someone who wants to do well, you really do. You can do all the therapy you want but you have to have someone who wants to do better. I think that it is a testament to his spirit that he put in the effort for that,” said Dr. Ackerman.

After months of intense rehab, he is defying the odds, showing improvement that doctors were not sure they would ever see.