Fairy Tale ending for woman after paralysis procedure

06th Jun 2015

Before she could even reach the pedals, 22-year-old Jesi Stracham wanted to drive fast. The professional motor sports racer went from Power Wheels Jeeps to go-karts. She told the TODAY Show, “My dad built me a custom mini Grand Prix car all DuPonted out, ’cause I love Jeff Gordon. It was great.”

But her love of racing took a turn for the worse this past January as she woke up paralyzed from the chest down after a serious motorcycle accident.

However, while she was unconscious, her family opted for her to receive an experimental surgery in which she was only the second person in the world to undergo.

The first person to receive the surgery was 26-year-old Jordan Fallis who was paralyzed after attempting a back-flip on his dirt bike. “I saw it as my only shot,” Fallis said. Fallis had no nerve signals in his spinal cord, but can now move his legs and walk in the pool, following his procedure.

Stracham has also taken great steps in her recovery. She can move her hips fully and can feel all the muscles in her legs. “I get charley horses in my calves,” she said.

The spinal procedure involves inserting a device called a Neuro-Spinal Scaffold into the wound in the spinal cord. The scaffold allows the cells that are remaining and viable in the spinal cord to hang on and potentially grow. The best-case scenario will allow the patient to regain normal function as the spinal cord has an environment to repair itself.

But this is just part of the fairy-tale ending for Stracham. When she found out Fallis had also received this procedure, she reached out to him to discuss their surgery and injuries. Fallis said, “We kept it professional.”

But that all changed. Stracham said, “When I found out that his [injury happened] with a  back flip, I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, back flip on a dirt bike? This is my kind of guy.” Their FaceTime dates become nightly and they’d fall asleep talking to each other on FaceTime. Stracham added, “I’ve never connected with somebody on the level that I do with him. It’s my fairy tale. Get paralyzed and fall in love.”

These days, Jesi Stracham is back in the driver’s seat racing in a modified ATV with Fallis cheering her on from the side.