At 16 years old, Tyler Head’s life changed forever.
The former Newton High School student suffered a spinal cord injury during a wrestling accident on Dec. 29, 2012, sustaining two broken vertebrae in his neck, and doctors told him he may never regain mobility from his neck down.
Today, Head’s muscles are strong, allowing him to independently take care of himself.
“As things started to come back, obviously my muscles are weaker than an average person’s, but I’ve built up a good deal of strength,” Head said. “That’s something that 3-4 years ago I never thought would be possible.”
After the accident, Head underwent emergency surgery at Atlanta Medical Center and was later transported to the Shepherd Spinal Center for therapy and rehabilitation. People from all over the community brought gifts to him and his family to show their support.
“We had people donating food, helping us out in any way that they could,” Head said. “So many people had me on prayer lists at church and that kind of stuff. I got cards and all of these gifts and stuff that just really showed how much the community was behind me.”
The Head family then learned information about non embryonic stem cell therapy in Switzerland that could help in the progression of Tyler’s mobility, which was a procedure that would also cost thousands of dollars.
And that is where the Newton County community stepped in again.
The family started a Facebook page titled “Tyler Head Updates” in 2013 to provide updates on Tyler’s healing, as well as bring awareness to the goal of getting him to Switzerland. A GoFundMe account was opened, and friends and family gladly pitched in to help by donating and holding several benefits in his honor, allowing Tyler to get the stem cell surgery in 2015.
“When I went to Switzerland for stem cell, the community helped out again in helping to raise money for all of that to be done,” he said. “We raised enough where we didn’t have to pay for anything out of our own pocket.”
While Tyler previously underwent rehabilitation every day, he now visits a rehab center once a week and goes to local gyms and works out in his own time.
“The rehab process itself has kind of been nonstop,” he said. “I’ve always been doing some form of something. It’s gone from being having to work with licensed rehab therapist to slowly being able to do these kinds of things on my own. I’ve come a long way.”
Today, Head is a student at Perimeter College of Georgia State University and will be getting his associate’s degree in the upcoming fall semester. He will then to transfer to the University of Georgia, where he plans to study mass communication and pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
One thing Head made clear is how thankful he is for the support of the community during his time of recovery.
“I just wanted to thank everybody for their prayers and support and everything they’ve done for me over these past couple of years,” he said. “It spoke volumes, and I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without the support of other people like that.”