Skip Redd in music room surrounded by students with musical instruments.

VIDEO: Teacher overcomes paralysis to get back in the classroom

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When music teacher Skip Redd hosted his choir and band students to an end-of-school-year party at the local trampoline park, he never imagined that in one afternoon his life would change.

A trampoline fan since his own childhood, Skip promised his students a big show.

“I landed the front flip, although not quite on my feet,” he remembers. “I tried to get more height for the backflip, but didn’t get enough. So when I came down, I landed on my head.”

Skip broke his neck in two places and was instantly paralyzed. First responders had him airlifted to Methodist Dallas Medical Center, where he was evaluated by Bartley Mitchell, MD, medical director of endovascular surgery and neurosurgeon with Methodist Moody Brain and Spine Institute.

From 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., Dr. Mitchell operated on Skip, trying to give him the best possible chance to walk again.

‘Willing to go the extra mile’

Methodist Dallas’ neurosurgery services bring together expertise, technology, and compassion for the treatment of neurological disorders. Patients like Skip benefit from not only the latest diagnostic and treatment protocols but also from experienced physicians who collectively perform more than 1,200 neurosurgical procedures each year.

“When Skip fell on the trampoline and fractured his neck, it caused a dislocation of the bones,” says Dr. Mitchell, who specializes in spinal disk and spinal fusion procedures. “This pinched his spinal cord, causing him to be nearly completely paralyzed at that moment.

“We knew that we needed to take the pressure off of his spinal cord as quickly as possible to offer him the best possible chance at having any recovery of his spinal function.”

Dr. Mitchell began operating from the front side of Skip’s neck, using plates and screws to realign his dislocated bones. Then from the back side of his neck, the surgical team removed the bone and ligament that compressed his spinal cord.

“Our aim is to offer the highest-quality neurosurgical service available anywhere, and we are willing to go the extra mile to provide the best care for our patients,” Dr. Mitchell says. “In this case, it meant operating all night long, not knowing if this would actually improve Skip’s paralysis, but we believe in giving someone the chance to make a meaningful recovery.”


WATCH: Music teacher Skip Redd broke his neck in two places during a trampoline accident in front of his students. He was told he would be paralyzed and likely never be able to teach again. The neurology team at Methodist Dallas operated on Skip’s spine all night, and now, he’s back in the classroom inspiring his students through music.

On his way back to school

While the original best-case scenario for Skip’s recovery was the function of one hand so he could feed himself, he has surpassed expectations and is now walking without a cane and driving short distances.

“Skip’s recovery truly is phenomenal, especially given the extent of his initial spinal injury,” Dr. Mitchell says. “There are many reasons why Skip made such a fantastic recovery, including the immediate care and surgery he received from our team, but also the nursing and rehabilitation care he received at Methodist Dallas.”

Three times a week, Skip works on leg strength with a physical therapist, and twice a week, he returns to Methodist Dallas for occupational therapy. His ultimate goal was to make it back to the classroom, and in fall 2018, he began teaching choir once again.

“I’ve had wonderful care at Methodist,” Skip says. “They were kind to me and treated me like a human being when sometimes I didn’t feel like one.

“Now I want to get back to work mentally and physically. I want to just be normal — to be in the classroom and make music again.”


Take our Back and Neck Pain Assessment to see if you could benefit from an exam by a neurosurgeon on our medical staff.