‘That’s every parents worse nightmare’: Young girl paralyzed after fall off playmat

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 7:41 PM EST
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LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Playtime turned into a nightmare Friday evening for a Lincoln County family.

Two-year-old Piper King was playing on her playmat when she fell.

“I was watching her and I was telling her to be careful, and she took a tumble where she kinda went over it, and when she did she hit and hyperextended her neck and she went unconscious,” said Haley King, Piper’s mother.

Haley rushed over to Piper, but she wasn’t responding.

“Right then, I knew something wasn’t right,” Haley said. “That’s like every parents worst nightmare.”

When Piper regained consciousness, she could not stand, and did not want to put any weight on her legs, but still had some movement in her arms and legs.

She was rushed by ambulance to Cabell Huntington Hospital. When they arrived, she had lost all function of her arms and legs.

An MRI showed she has a severe Chiari malformation, a condition where brain tissue extends into the spinal canal.

“That’s what caused her tumble to be so severe,” Haley said. “They initially thought that she had a tumor on her spine, but she has what they call a Chiari malformation and most people their whole lives, until they get to adulthood, don’t even know that they have those.”

Piper was flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator.

“You just feel helpless. You kind of feel lost and you want to do anything you can to help your child,” Haley said.

Piper had surgery Monday to decompress her spine and repair the malformation. Haley says it’s now a waiting game they are taking day by day.

“It’s devastating. It seems like you’re living in a nightmare, and I mean, even now how many days later, it doesn’t feel like you’ve woken up,” said Heather Hall, Piper’s aunt.

The family is not placing any blame on the playmat and say it was just a freak accident, but they are paranoid -- knowing this could happen to any child.

“They are saying the Chiari malformation is much more common than we realize, and that without an MRI you’ll walk around your whole life with it and not know you have it,” Hall said. “Life can change in the blink of an eye.”

The family is clinging to hope they will see their spunky Piper walk again.

“We know that our God still works miracles everyday, and we are leaning on His grace to get us through these times,” Hall said. “I feel like these prayers are working, and I feel like God hears our cries.”

Piper is looking at a year of rehabilitation in Columbus, and doctors are unsure if she will walk again.

A bike rally is being organized for the first week of April to bring awareness to Chiari malformation.

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