Hope and heart
Krugerville teen, family seek treatment for spinal cord injury
A Krugerville teen has been traveling back and forth from Colombia to receive stem cell treatments during summer break.
Joshua Black is hoping the treatments, along with daily rehabilitation, will help reverse the damage he sustained from a catastrophic spinal cord injury in May of 2019.
“They’ve been doing it for years in other countries,” said Joy Black, Joshua’s mother. “… I don’t know if it’s still experimental over there? I guess over here it would be considered experimental because it’s not approved by the FDA.”
If the treatments are successful, they will help regenerate the damaged cells.
Joshua’s treatment consists of two days of intrathecal spinal injections, after which he needs to lay flat for six hours. Those six hours at a time have not been fun for him, Joy said. To get through that, his sister has helped, and so have watching videos.
“They actually inject into the lumbar area, but they inject it into the spinal canal,” Joy said. “That’s the part that they don’t allow over here in the United States. It travels through all the cerebral spinal fluid.”
Other parts of Black’s treatment include intravenous injections of stem cells and spending time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
The treatments take five days. Joy and Joshua were grateful that their hotel was attached to a mall as well as the medical clinic. The mall provided the family with entertainment outside of treatment.
Their church, Midway Church, is hosting a fundraising event at 6 p.m. on July 10 to benefit the Black family. The “Fish Sticks Comedy Show” will be a family-friendly comedy show.
Tickets can be purchased by texting your name and number to 949-322-3056. To donate, go to midwaychurch.org/donate, click “Give,” select “Go Joshua” in drop down box that says FUND.
Joy explained the fundraiser was initiated by a close friend and a fundraising group from the church.
“They set a goal of $50,000 and that goal has been met,” she said.
The Black family is facing medical charges from the specialized treatment as well as hitting limits on their insurance for coverage of Joshua’s physical therapy sessions.
“Monday was our visit 23 of 25,” Joy said. “Our insurance gives us 25 visits a year.”
Joshua said “it means a lot” to see his family friends and their church community’s efforts.
“It’s somewhere to go, that’s a good place where all my friends are,” he said about Midway. “Everyone is there to help and support me. … They accept me the way I am.”
Joshua’s injury occurred when he landed on the trampoline wrong after doing a flip.
“He was doing flips, something he’s done hundreds of times before. He just landed in the middle of the trampoline wrong,” Joy said.
He was diagnosed with a C5/C6 spinal cord injury.
Unfortunately, Joshua’s case is not the only injury to have occurred with the same result from jumping on a trampoline.
Dangers of Trampolines
In a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it showed incidents of pediatric trampoline fractures went up an annual average of 3.85% year over year between 2008 and 2017.
“Trampoline fractures remain a common source of orthopedic injuries and a significant public health issue,” the study said.
Several studies have been published warning of the dangers of trampolines since its patent in 1936.
In 1971, the National Collegiate Athletic Association banned it from national competition.
In 1996, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons made a statement to ban trampolines from home, playground and education programs.
In 1999, the AAP reiterated the AAOS’s 1996 statement. The statement was again reiterated in 2005 by the AAOS and again in 2010.
An article published for the AAP from the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness studied trampoline injuries from 2004 to 2009. It stated, “Cervical spine injuries can happen with falls but also commonly occur on the trampoline mat when failed somersaults or flips cause hyperflexion or hyperextension of the cervical spine.”
Trampoline parks are now showing increasing rates of injuries as well, as their popularity grows.
Results from Joshua's Treatments
The Black family will be returning to Colombia the week of Labor Day to take advantage of allotted time off from school and work for the next round of treatment.
Treatment cannot guarantee results. Joy said some people have seen results from the treatments while others have not.
“Only God knows the outcome, and we continue to pray and hope,” she said. “We believe in miracles.”