HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Jockey Eibar Coa has begun taking the first steps on the road to what he is hoping will be a complete recovery from injuries suffered in a spill at Gulfstream Park at Feb. 18 that originally left him paralyzed throughout most of his body.
Speaking from his room in the rehabilitation center at Memorial South Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., Coa said Monday that he is able to walk short distances and is undergoing three hours of therapy daily.
"I can't walk completely on my own -- I always have someone behind me in case I lose my balance -- but I am able to walk about 10 to 20 steps by myself then I need a little rest and then I can walk maybe 10 more," said Coa, 40. "I can walk good with assistance. The doctors say they are so proud of the way I'm recovering. They tell me everything is coming way too fast, that they've never seen anybody regain movement the way I'm getting it so far."
Coa fractured the C-4 vertebra in his neck in the spill, which occurred while pulling up following the conclusion of the sixth race on Feb. 18. He also suffered a broken left wrist and broken left shoulder in the accident.
"The doctors said they are going to release me from here in two to three weeks at the max and I'll be able to continue my therapy from home," said Coa.
A benefit golf tournament for Coa is to be held on Tuesday at the Woodmont Country Club in Tamarac, Fla. Coa said he is hoping to be able to attend.
"I am going to ask the doctor for permission to go this evening," said Coa. "The big problem is that the special wheelchair I'm using doesn't fold, so finding suitable transportation will be the big problem. But if I can get there, I really would love to attend."