Local Gymnast Mahoney Is Paralyzed, Doctor Confirms
Lyons Township graduate and Western Springs resident, Kathryn Mahoney, was injured while practicing for the Michigan State gymnastics team.
Kathryn Mahoney, a Lyons Township High School graduate and Western Springs resident, is paralyzed from the neck down following a horrific fall on vault in December, Dr. Larry Nassar, team doctor for the Michigan State gymnastics team, confirmed with Patch on Thursday.
“I expect her to be able to live an independent life, regardless if she gains her legs or not," Nassar said.
Mahoney has had some, not full, feeling in her upper extremities, Nassar said. He said it is his belief that she will eventually recover use of her upper extremities and that those close to her are hopeful that she will continue to make progress.
Mahoney, who Michigan State coach Kathie Klages had anticipated to be the team’s top all-arounder this season, is now receiving treatment at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
The college senior fractured her C6 vertebra while practicing Dec. 29 and subsequently underwent surgery to stabilize her spine.
“It’s devastating. It’s heartbreaking,” Klages told the Lansing State Journal. “I’d change places with her in a heartbeat if the good Lord would let me.”
Nassar said Mahoney could be at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for as little as the next eight weeks or as long as a year, depending on how she responds.
Whether or not Mahoney is able to walk again is unknown at this time.
“Kathryn Mahoney is such an exceptional individual, with such determination and character, that the odds or laws of averages do not hold up in her case,” Nassar said. “We expect her to exceed all probabilities."
The Spartans have dedicated their season to Mahoney. In addition to using the cash for their Christmas gift exchange to start a fund for Mahoney’s medical expenses, the team’s leotards now feature a dollar sign inside a heart. The dollar sign recognizes Mahoney whose nickname is “Money.”
The team remains in contact with Mahoney despite East Lansing and Chicago being more than 200 miles apart. The team is using Skype.com, a software program that allows them to contact Mahoney over the Internet, to speak with her prior to each meet.
Michigan State is currently 0-6 in the young season and doesn’t return to action until it heads to Western Michigan for a dual meet on Feb. 6.
Mahoney’s family asked that their privacy be respected and advised Patch that the best source, and the only official updates regarding Kathryn’s rehabilitation, will come directly from the Michigan State Sports Information Department. Their website is www.msuspartans.com
As of Jan. 28, Michigan State assistant sports information director Jim Donatelli did not know when the next status update would be provided. The last one was Jan. 6.
Those interested in contributing funds to assist Mahoney with her post-operative recovery stage, can send a check, made payable to “Kathryn Mahoney Fund,” to either Michigan State Federal Credit Union, 3777 West Rd., East Lansing, MI 48223 or MSU Gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages, 312 Jenison Field House, East Lansing, MI 48224-1025. You can also call (517) 333-2424 and make a donation by means on a virtual check.
Cards can be mailed to Kathryn Mahoney at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611.