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Injured teen ready to go back to school

Ben Hildebrant broke a vertebra in a diving accident

POSTED: October 27, 2007 5:05 a.m.
A West Hall High School student injured this summer in a swimming pool diving accident is set to return to school Monday.

Ben Hildebrant, a member of the Spartan football team, is scheduled to be released Friday from the Atlanta-based Shepherd Center, where he has been receiving therapy.

"He’s about to explode, he’s so excited" about returning to West Hall, said his father, Loren Hildebrant.

He added that his son’s recovery "is nothing short of a miracle."

"He’s walking again; he’s using a cane to walk now. He will be in a wheelchair early on for school because of the crowded nature of trying to walk up and down the halls and he’s not quite as strong as he will be," said Hildebrant, pastor at Flat Creek Baptist Church in West Hall.

"But when we bring him home ... we leave the wheelchair in the car," he added.

West Hall High and LifeSouth Community Blood Center are planning to hold a blood drive in his honor Monday.

The event is set for 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the public invited to donate from 4:15-7.

Hildebrant, a junior, broke his C-5 vertebra in August after a diving accident in a friend’s pool, leaving him paralyzed on his right side.

"He’s still weaker on his right side than his left side, and his right hand is going to be a problem," said his father. "But he’s compensating. He’s having to write with his left hand."

Shepherd spokeswoman Alison Damerow said the teenager "has been participating in extensive occupational therapy, physical therapy, therapeutic recreation and more.

"He’s also been up on the weight-bearing treadmill, working to retrain the muscles in his legs."

Hildebrant also meets in a classroom with other injured teenagers and a teacher to work on the schoolwork he has been missing.

"One of the goals Shepherd has for all its patients is to get them back doing what they were doing before their injury," Damerow said.

Schooling is about 90 minutes twice a week, "so he’ll have a lot of catching up when he gets back home," said Hildebrant’s father.



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