Paralyzed Wichita woman walks again: ‘It was tears of joy’

Courtesy: Debbie Shively Hoskins

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita native, injured during a hiking accident, is making a remarkable recovery.

“I was reaching up to get my nephew’s hand and we had just touched fingers and he had seen my look in my eyes and I knew I was slipping,” said Chris Shively Layne.

It was in that moment Chris Shively Layne’s life changed forever.

“The world was spinning around as I was log rolling down. I think if I had fallen head over heels, then I would not be here today,” Shively Layne said.

Shively Layne was on a hiking trip near Denver, Colorado in October of 2016 when tragedy hit. As the single mother attempted to cross a boulder, she lost her footing and fell nearly 75 feet.

“At the bottom, I knew something was wrong, immediately,” she said.

Shively Layne’s son, 17, quickly put his Boy Scouts training to use, securing his mother’s body while the other people in the hiking group called for help. Emergency crews then airlifted Shively Layne to the nearest hospital.

“At that point, I had my back surgery and my family realized at that time that I was paralyzed,” Shively Layne said.

The dedicated nurse and outdoor enthusiast shattered her wrist, broke a number of ribs and suffered a spinal chord injury leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

“Knowing at that moment I was paralyzed, it was OK. I have no idea what’s to come, but I was alive and that’s what mattered,” she said.

For the next two months, Shively Layne underwent intense rehab at Craig Hospital in Denver. Craig Hospital is the same spinal chord and traumatic brain injury hospital that Wichita Police Officer Brian Arterburn is currently at.

“They weren’t there to make me walk and have a spinal cord injury anymore, but to do what I needed to do once I left that place,” Shively Layne said.

Now, about eight months after her fall, Shively Layne is making strides she said not even her doctors anticipated. Shively Layne is now driving on her own and last week she walked for the first time since the accident.

“I’m walking on my own, this is crazy!” exclaimed Shively Layne in a video showing her walking for the first time.

Shively Layne now hopes to encourage others who have encountered difficult and tragic situations.

“There’s always a way through this. Stay positive, just keep going and just try your hardest. Perseverance is where it is,” she said.

Shively Layne said she will continue to do outpatient therapy at Craig Hospital in Colorado. She said her goal is to walk on her own by next year.


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