Ryan Joseph, a high school sophomore in California has been left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own after being injured during a wrestling match.
Ryan Joseph of College Park High School in Pleasant Hill was wrestling in a junior varsity match Jan. 10 when he sustained a C4 spinal cord injury, according to a GoFundMe page under his name. Joseph remained at the ICU at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he is on ventilator-assisted breathing.
Joseph was participating in a match in front of friends and family when the injury occurred, his long-time friend Adam Samhan told KGO-TV.
“The guy took him down and put him in a hold, and then the ref shook him off and he shook his head like, ‘I can’t get up’ so he just laid there and the ambulance had to come and take him,” said Samhan.
The GoFundMe account in Joseph’s name had raised over 30,000 as of Tuesday. The site held a targeted goal of $500,000. The money is expected to aid his family with medical expenses for rehabilitation and home accessibility, according to the website.
The 16-year-old sophomore was on the school’s wrestling team for two years. Joseph also played lacrosse for his school’s team before he was injured. His father, Tom Joseph coached at De La Salle High School. His uncle, Mike Halket, was also a wrestling coach at Dublin High School.
The C4 level of the spine holds nerves that connect to the diaphragm, which helps with breathing and maintaining oxygen levels. Those who have suffered a C4 spinal cord injury are said to require 24-hour-a day assisted breathing from a ventilator. Patients often experienced bladder control issues and problems with bowel function.
No specific treatment can fix damage at the C4 portion of the spinal cord. Instead, the goal is to prevent additional harm to the injured area and to sustain what’s left of the current function. Experts have studied stem cells, in hopes to help repair damaged spinal cords.