From a Freak Accident to a Restored Lifestyle: A Unique Spine Surgery Approach

At the beginning of January 2020, avid horseback rider Jacklyn K., 30, was riding her last horse of the day when a deer jumped into the arena and spooked her horse. Being whipped from her horse’s back, Jacklyn hit the ground hard.

She immediately felt waves of nausea and couldn’t turn her head. While she thought it might have been a bad concussion, Jacklyn went to the hospital to make sure that everything would be alright.

A CT scan later, and the ER doctors rushed to put her in a neck brace and give her IVs of fluids and pain medicine. One of the on-call surgeons explained to Jacklyn that she had broken and displaced her C1. The doctor recommended scheduling an appointment for surgery and then undergoing a cervical fusion, which would result in a significant loss of range of motion in her neck.

As an avid CrossFit athlete, Jacklyn knew losing significant range of motion would be difficult with her active lifestyle. One phone call with her coworker led her to Dr. Patrick Curry from BoulderCentre for Orthopedics & Spine within a week of the accident.

“I could tell he really cared and did his best to help me stay calm throughout the entire process," said Jacklyn.

Dr. Curry explained to Jacklyn that a cervical fusion was not her only option.

“The standard treatment for a fracture of the C1 is a cervical fusion of the C1 and C2,” Dr. Curry said. “I knew that Jacklyn wanted to continue an active lifestyle, and that procedure would take away 50% of her range of motion.”

Dr. Curry suggested that Jacklyn undergo an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF), which sets the bones back together and allows the body to heal itself. With this procedure, Jacklyn would maintain more mobility. While not many doctors would be comfortable performing this surgery, Dr. Curry was confident that Jacklyn would experience long-term benefits and was committed to helping her return to normal life again.

“Dr. Curry really cared. He made sure I was comfortable before and after the surgery, always checking in on everyone, including my mom,” Jacklyn said.

Over the course of a few months, Jacklyn spent her time rehabbing and getting more CT scans to monitor her recovery. At her six-month checkup, Jacklyn’s final CT scan showed her bones healing well.

“Her bones had a good, solid union,” Dr. Curry said. “Her C1 was healing back into a circle.”

Now two years post-accident, Jacklyn enjoys her life as normal. “I am back to lifting heavy weights, running, CrossFit, and the things I love,” she said. “I’m not sure if Dr. Curry is a magician, but he might be. I could’ve died, and now here I am with no neck pain— everything’s okay.”

If unexpected back, neck, or spine pain prevents you from living the life you love, consult with board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Curry by calling 303.449.2730 or scheduling an appointment online.