31-year-old Menlo Park rock climber aided by California-based High Fives Foundation towards spinal cord injury recovery
Empowerment Grant awarded for specialized treatments and natural water therapy
(Truckee, California. June 15, 2016) — 31-year-old Alina Garbuzov was a seasoned rock climber with nearly ten years experience. In October 2015, Garbuzo was in Yosemite National Park climbing on terrain that was well below her ability when her backpack slipped and threw her off balance. Her climbing partner was relatively new to climbing and had a hard time stopping her fall. She fell sixty feet before the rope stopped her. The impact of the fall fractured her L1 vertebra, badly broke thumb, scapula, ribs and collapsed a lung.
Three helicopter rides later, Garbuzov found herself at Stanford Hospital where she had surgery to open the vertebra and fuse her spine above and below the fracture.
She was paralyzed from the waist down, but sensation and function quickly have begun to return. Six months later, she is still in a wheelchair.
In the month of May, Lake Tahoe-based non-profit, the High Fives Foundation awarded Garbuzov a grant to travel to Neuroworx, a specialized physical therapy facility in Salt Lake City, Utah for specialized training, Pilates, and natural water training.
Included in the grant is a wetsuit.
“My short-term goals are to improve at swimming and biking enough to complete a long-distance swim outdoors and to participate in a triathalon,” Garbuzov said. “My long-term goals are to transition out of using a wheelchair to crutches and canes.”
“Alina is an incredibly hard worker and plans to make this injury a distant memory,” said Roy Tuscany, Executive Director of the High Fives Foundation. “She has lower extremity movement and plans to keep working it until it gets strong enough to walk again.”
In the month of May alone, the High Fives Foundation granted $37,186 to 11 High Fives Athletes.