Lake Braddock senior Nick Balenger dislocated the C4 and C5 vertebrae while somersaulting into a wave in the Pacific Ocean on vacation in Hawaii in July. He has limited movement in his fingers and currently spends his days in acute rehabilitation at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network in Northwest Washington.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, based at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, 1,618 males suffered diving-related spinal cord injuries in 2011, and another 112 males suffered spinal cord injuries while surfing or bodysurfing.
Diving and surfing/bodysurfing accounted for 7.6 percent of spinal cord injuries in males in 2011. Diving is the fourth-most common cause of spinal cord injury in males, after auto accidents, falls and gunshot wounds.
“Nick Nation” fundraisers are under way, including bracelet sales at Lake Braddock home football games and a car wash Sunday to help defray the Balengers’ mounting medical bills. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the medical costs for a spinal cord injury can be several hundred thousand dollars in the first year alone.
Donations to the Balengers can be sent to Nick Balenger SCI Recovery Fund, Northwest Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 1229, Herndon, Va., 20172.