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Makayla Noble Update As Paralyzed Teen Answers Fan Questions on Her Injury, Future Plans

Newsweek logo Newsweek 12/22/2021 Aristos Georgiou
Makayla Noble, the 17-year-old high school cheerleader who was paralyzed in a freak tumbling accident. © Cedarbook Media Makayla Noble, the 17-year-old high school cheerleader who was paralyzed in a freak tumbling accident.

Makayla Noble, the Texas high school cheerleader who was paralyzed in a freak accident, has answered questions submitted by her fans, touching on everything from her experiences immediately after the incident, all the way to her hopes for the future.

The 17-year-old Prosper resident suffered a severe spinal cord injury while practicing tumbling—an acrobatic form of gymnastics—in a friend's backyard on September 20.

The teenager, a world champion cheerleader, tried to do a flip, but she ended up landing on her neck, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down and unable to move her hands.

The teenager spent several weeks between hospital and a rehabilitation facility before being allowed to return home. She is now undergoing several forms of therapy as her rehabilitation and recovery continues.

Noble's story has garnered widespread attention and thousands of people are tuning in to updates on her recovery posted to social media.

In a YouTube video, Noble attempted to answer some of the questions that people have asked most frequently.

Among them, several followers had asked what she remembered after waking up from the accident, to which Noble responded that she never lost consciousness until she underwent surgery.

"I remember when I hit the floor, I was in the grass outside. I remember when I hit the ground, it hurt because I found my face in my throat, in my neck. It hurt really bad and I just knew my neck was in a lot of pain. Then I just knew I couldn't feel anything below my neck," she said.

"I kind of knew I was paralyzed, I can't really explain it. It's not something I've ever felt before. But it was like, 'Oh, I can't feel my legs. I can't feel my arms. I can't feel any of this.'"

Other followers asked whether Noble had any feelings in her legs during the ambulance ride to the hospital.

"No, I did not," she said. "I had no feeling below my neck in the ambulance or when I had the injury happen. And that was the way it was for a few weeks. I regained feeling back in my arms, I think after the first or second week, and then gained movement in one arm, and then slowly in the other. But it was very minimal."


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"And then I think three weeks after the injury I gained feeling in my legs... which carried throughout my whole body. So, I think it was like three or four weeks out, I was finally able to feel my whole body but only move my arms."

In response to another question, Noble said her hardest struggle mentally was having to learn "the easy things" again and being proud of achieving them.

"It's just annoying because I feel like I'm being babied sometimes. When people are excited that I can be myself or I can brush my teeth or wash my face, I roll my eyes and I'm like, 'I could do that when I was three or four.' I've always been really hard on myself even before the accident and so I think being proud of those small moments is difficult for me because I'm like, 'I should already have been able to do that by now.'"

Noble said the biggest achievement in her recovery, medically speaking, was being taken off the ventilator. Medical staff placed her on the device when she was in hospital, as well as inserting a tracheostomy tube into her neck, after she got pneumonia and her lungs collapsed.

"I was pretty proud being able to get off the ventilator and getting the trach out, and then being able to talk, and then being able to eat again and breathe on my own. Because some people, once they get on a ventilator, they stay on it for the rest of their lives. Or some people never get their trach out. Or some people have to be on feeding tubes for life."

Physically speaking, Noble said she was also "very proud" of how much her muscles had improve.

"I was able to get my biceps back and work on strengthening them, as well as getting my triceps back," she said. "And right now I'm working on strengthening them as well as my biceps. That is really good because I broke my C6 vertebrae. I wasn't even supposed to get my triceps back at all. So, that's amazing."

Many of her followers had asked whether she would ever be able to walk again, to which she responded that the answer was still unclear.

"As much as I hate saying this, no one knows the answers. If I'm supposed to walk again, I'm going to walk again. If not, cool, I'll stay in a wheelchair and I'll be just the same person."

Noble said the things she was most looking forward to in 2022 was really "savouring every moment," not taking anything for granted, and spending more time with her loved ones. She also said she wants to travel as much as she can.

"Being in the situation that I was in, and having so many things taken away from me so quickly, and being in the hospital and in rehab for so long, it really changes your perspective on life," she said. "I think it gives you a new pair of eyes and I think I've just really been able to see what matters to me and kind of focus on that. That's just what I want to do in 2022—to worry less and just be happy."

Noble said she is hoping to finish her final year of high school and plans to study at college, majoring in business.

"I was planning on cheering in college. Obviously now that's not going to happen. That changes a lot because where I wanted to cheer depended on where I was going to go to college. Now that I'm not doing that, I'm more open to a lot of different schools that I might not have been open to," she said.

"I'm just taking it day by day, focusing on recovery right now. That's all I'm supposed to be doing and I'm not looking too far in the future. Because as this accident has taught me, there's no point in planning out your future, because it's never gonna go how it plans out. So I'm taking it one day at a time."

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