Texas High School Cheerleader Paralyzed After Suffering Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in 'Freak' Tumbling Fall

Texas Teen Severely Injured in Cheerleading Accident
Makayla Noble.GoFundMe

The teen has undergone surgery and will likely face more, her family said.

A 16-year-old high school cheerleader has been left paralyzed after suffering a traumatic spinal cord injury during a "freak" tumbling accident, her family and friends said.

Texas teen Makayla Noble cheers competitively and for her high school. She was injured Monday night while practicing in a backyard, her friends said. Chances for a full recovery appear slim, with her relatives "praying for a miracle."

"Today we were presented with a glimpse of what the next 12 months will look like in terms of recovery for Mak. It was not easy news to digest,” her mother, Jenn Noble, on Facebook. 

On Instagram, her sister, Myriah, wrote, "Makayla is now aware of her injuries and how severe they are. please pray for her mental health as she starts to process this information and begins to face the challenges that will come along with her new lifestyle. if anyone is going to overcome this it’s our makayla."

Makayla underwent one surgery, but a second was postponed because of the severity of her injuries, her family said. They hope, they said, that additional operations might restore some movement to the teen's limbs and ease her nausea and pain.

Cheerleading, which is not recognized as a varsity sport by many school athletic associations, has come under increased scrutiny for the severity of injuries suffered by girls and young women. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, shows that cheerleading caused 65% of "catastrophic” injuries suffered by female athletes from 1982 to 2009—including head and spine injuries that lead to paralysis or death. 

When it came to concussions suffered during practices, cheerleading had the second-highest number of injuries, just behind football, the survey found.

Cheerleading today, with its high-flying twists and gymnastic moves including back flips and aerials, is light years away from the pom-pom waving practices of earlier decades, when cheerleaders predominately stood on the sidelines of sports events and shouted into megaphones.

As it's become more competitive and more risky, cheerleading has become the most dangerous sport for female athletes, according to recent surveys.

Hundreds of students and their families gathered outside Makayla's hospital in Plano on Wednesday evening to hold a prayer vigil for the girl. Weeping teenagers held their cellphones to beam lights toward her room.

A GoFundMe account established to help the Noble family with medical costs has raised more than $88,000.

"You and your family have a long journey towards healing. You are not alone. A caring community is here to support you," wrote one contributor.

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