Doctors at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation say a teen who plummeted 3,500 feet to the ground last month walked with assistance Monday and may make a full recovery.
Makenzie Wethington, 16, was severely injured when her parachute malfunctioned Jan. 25 while skydiving over Chickasha, Okla.
Dr. Seema Sikka, the physician overseeing Wethington's care at Dallas' Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation, said Monday the teen's prognosis for a full recovery is very good.
During a news conference, Sikka said doctors are still conducting cognitive evaluations but that Wethington is having no trouble communicating with those around her.
Sikka outlined some of Wethington's outstanding issues, mainly fractures to the spine, hip, pelvis and ribs. She said she didn't expect Wethington would need any surgeries in her recovery other than what may be required to fix dental fractures.
Sikka said Wethington's main challenges in her recovery will be pain management. She'll need to find the balance so that she can take part in activities while healing without over-sedating.
"I think, for her, it's going to be mainly giving herself actually some time to recover. She's a young girl she wants to get out there again with her friends, be active," said Sikka. "The main challenge is going to be stepping back a little and give her some time to heal and recover and, kind of, being able to understand what that means for her."
Sikka said that Wethington may need to remain in rehab for several weeks, but that she would know more about the teen's recovery timeline in the coming days.
"Her strength and her movement of her extremities and her sensation appears pretty intact, so I think her spinal cord itself has been pretty intact," said Sikka.
Wethington's mother and father, Holly and Joe, were at the news conference Monday and also spoke on their daughter's behalf.
"It's amazing the things the school is doing for her. The pep rally, as soon as she got pictures sent to her, you know, it put a smile on her face. She's real happy that everybody, you know, really, loves and supports her and sending all the prayers," said Holly Wethington.
Last week, Makenzie's father said his daughter's parachute did not fully deploy when she jumped. The owner of the sky diving company, Bob Swainson of Pegasus Air Sports Center, has said there was nothing wrong with the parachute and that he believes Makenzie did not follow instructions given during her training.
After a little more than a week, the teenager was discharged from the University of Oklahoma Medical Center so that she could continue rehabilitation in North Texas.