Henning wrestler expected to recover after fracturing neck [UPDATED]Published 11:32am Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Updated 11:56am Monday, March 5, 2012
A Henning family has had a week of ups and downs after a freak wrestling accident that resulted in a neck fracture for Henning sophomore Nolan Koch.
Koch, 16, was competing with the Otter Tail Central wrestling team in a tournament in Barrett on Feb. 24.
“He was wrestling in the semifinals against a kid from Breckenridge,” recalled head coach Scott Hart.
Koch was making a throw on his opponent when his head was caught underneath both his and the other boy’s body.
“At first, from the chairs, it looked like a normal wrestling move that was going on,” said Hart, who only understood how the injury had happened during a review of the videotape. “If you were to do that 100,000 times, it might not (happen).”
A trainer was brought out to look at Koch, who originally appeared to have a concussion, but after some warning sign symptoms like the feeling of tingling through Koch’s fingertips, the teen was transported to the Douglas County Hospital before being flown to the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Koch had fractured the C5 and C6 vertebrae in his neck, herniating a disc and nicking his spinal cord in the process. Though the injury initially appeared to be very serious, family is now reporting back to community members that Koch is recovering well and may even be discharged from the hospital by the end of the week. He has not suffered paralysis, and doctors have even had him up and walking a couple of times.
“Right now they do not want to do surgery on the (disc) rupture,” said Hart, who visited Koch on Monday. “They think it can heal itself.”
In more good news on the injury front, the neck fractures are aligned in such a way that physicians currently expect them to mostly heal on their own, although Koch is currently in a halo neck brace. Koch’s parents, John and Kathy, hope Koch will be discharged by Friday.
Though Koch was somewhat sedated when Hart visited, Hart reported that his wrestler still spoke and acted like “the same old Nolan that we’ve known before.” Though the injury is in its very early stages, Hart said he’s heard it’s very possible that Koch will make a complete recovery – and possibly return to the Bulldogs, if he’s able.
“If he was given the chance again, he’d step right back out on the mat,” said Hart.
To help defray family expenses during this time, some family and friends of the Kochs are organizing a fundraiser. Wrestling booster club president and fundraiser organizer Debbie Starry has ordered shirts and bracelets that read “Slap the mat for Nolan,” as well as “Live Action,” a favorite catchphrase of Koch’s.
“Hopefully our T-shirts will be here in the next week … and the bracelets will be here in a few days,” said Starry.
To find out more about how to order a shirt or bracelet or how to help raise money for the Koch family, call Henning School at 218-583-2927 and ask for Starry.
For further updates on Koch, visit his CaringBridge website at www.caringbridge.org/visit/nolankoch.