Riverton teen saddles up for the first time since being paralyzed

17-year-old Annmarie Kalbach (aka Annie or Ann) of Riverton was thrown from her horse and broke her back on July 7, 2016. Specifically she broke her back at the 5th & 6th thoracic vertebra and is paralyzed from the waist down. Read background on Ann's the accident here.

Ann had surgery on July 9 at Children's Hospital in Aurora, CO and moved to Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO on July 15. Since then she's been doing spinal chord injury boot camp as her mom explained to County 10.

"At the beginning Ann had no sensation, function or movement below her chest," Sara said. "Since the therapy began Ann has had a steady progression of the ability to use the muscles down to about her belly button. It's slow progress, but progress nonetheless."

Sarah says Ann has been working hard and making progress every day. Yesterday was a very exciting and emotional day for the family. Ann was able to get on her saddle for the first time since the accident. "It was a hugely emotional moment," said Sarah. "Ann cried which was to be expected I suppose. Then she spent the next hour on her horse talking to all of her friends and practicing her balance which was the whole point of it."

Ann is doing rehabilitation exercises for up to 6 hours per day. She is participating in Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, a "Fit Class," and Functional Electronic Stimulation Bicycles which help keep the muscles in her legs strong and flexible. She also just started hippotherapy which uses horseback riding as a therapeutic treatment. Ann also has a tutor for school work so she wont be behind when school starts this fall. She's also spent several hours being fitted for a wheel chair. She's on her third chair since arriving and she'll try two more in the near future as she's trying to find the appropriate style and fit for her lifestyle.


"We have a tentative release date of September 15," noted Sarah. "Our home is not suitable to remodel so she will be coming home to her brother's house in Riverton until our home sells and a more functional one can be acquired."

"We are in awe of the amount of support we've received from the community," Sarah tells County 10. "Donations have come in from all over. People have approached my sons and handed them checks to support Ann. Offers of help to assist with the transition of getting Ann into our homes, back into school, with her riding and to help me stay here with her in Englewood. There's no way to say 'thank you' to each one without sounding trite, but from the bottom of our hearts....Thank you all."

All photos: h/t Sarah Kalbach / Pitchengine Communities

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