Air Guardsman overcomes paralysis after accident, completes the - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Air Guardsman overcomes paralysis after accident, completes therapy before Christmas

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July 2013: Poynter was deployed in the Caribbean where the aircraft Loadmaster was on another mission serving our country. July 2013: Poynter was deployed in the Caribbean where the aircraft Loadmaster was on another mission serving our country.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – He just wrapped up his final physical therapy session. A gift he credits to a higher power. The air guardsman is home for the holidays and out of a wheelchair after a terrifying accident.

A tour of duty in paradise nearly ended Master Sergeant Drew Poynter's life.

"I very easily could've died that day."

July 2013: Poynter was deployed in the Caribbean where the aircraft Loadmaster was on another mission serving our country. During a brief break, he took a dip in the ocean.

"My face broke the water and suddenly I realized I couldn't swim."

Suddenly paralyzed, the Kentucky Air National Guardsman could barely move a muscle.

"It was horrifying. From having a family with two young kids and a wife, this is my career."

Poynter doesn't remember hitting the sandbar and never had cuts or bruises, yet Poynter lost functional motor control on the right part of his body.

"Whatever I hit at a 90-degree angle, because it put an axial load on the top of my head, which caused my backbone to compress and one of my vertebrae to shatter."

"When Drew initially came in to the hospital he had no movement at all," said Dr. Steve Williams.

For weeks Poynter was bedridden, but when he stepped in therapy, he amazed doctors.

"Not many recover to the extent Drew has recovered. When you look at Drew today, it is hard to imagine that he really was paralyzed at one point," Dr. Williams added.

A point that some patients with Poynter's injury never achieve: his last physical therapy session happened two days before Christmas.  

"Inspiring in particular this time of year to see someone who received such a wonderful holiday gift and go back to something he loves so much," said Dr. Williams.

"The whole experience has been surreal because you hear a lot about people who have my type of injury, who don't ever have any type of recovery," reflected Poynter. "There are people who spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair."

"I've been given a second change and I'm not going to waste that."

Master Sergeant Poynter plans to go back to active duty by the new year and possibly be redeployed in 2014.

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