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After Injuring Her Neck in a Bad Cheerleading Fall, Sara Received PRP Therapy to Get Her Back to a Pain-free Active Life.

Sara, Spinal Champion

Athletic Injury, Whiplash

Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment

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I was an active student and athlete and enjoying my senior year in high school. As a competitive cheerleader, I put my skills to work as a member of my high school cheer squad, flipping and jumping with my team. But all that came to a screeching halt the day I was dropped on my head. In addition, I participated as a member of the crew and dive teams.

In October of 2018, I was practicing a stunt with my high school cheer team. My teammates were supporting me on their arms but when I went to do the stunt, my teammates couldn’t catch me. They accidentally dropped me; the back of my head hit the ground first.

I was diagnosed with a severe concussion, but me and my primary doctor were unaware of the full extent of my injuries.

Months after the accident I was recovering from my concussion, but my progression eventually stalled as my pain was increasing. I was unable to go out with friends, even looking at my school books was painful for me – and I was an honor roll student.

Ultimately, a visit with Dr. Niteesh Bharara, Director of Regenerative Medicine at Virginia Spine Institute revealed I had cervical whiplash, a condition that affects 3 million Americans each year causing the vertebrae to shift. I went through physical therapy, but I later reaggravated the injury.

Knowing my mom wanted to help me avoid surgery, Dr. Bharara recommended regenerative medicine and a treatment known as platelet-rich plasma injections or PRP. The procedure uses elements of my own blood. My medical team drew my blood, spun it down to get my platelets and injected it back into the point of my injury. The goal is to accelerate healing by strengthening ligaments. In my case, that’s exactly what it did, setting me on a path to recovery.

Today my vertebrae in my neck are stable and the pain is gone. I went from not being able to do virtually anything to enjoying life once again. As a result of the procedure, I was able to go to my Senior Prom where I could dance and have fun without worrying I would be in pain. Three months after the procedure, I enjoyed trips to the beach and even returned to the gym.

Today my vertebrae in my neck are stable and the pain is gone.

Spinal Champion Q&A

How did your spinal injury occur?

I was practicing a stunt with my cheer squad and was accidentally dropped – the back of my head hit the ground first.

How did your injury affect your life?

I wasn’t able to cheer, go out with my friends, and even looking at my school books was painful.

Watch Sara's Story on WUSA9

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