Teen Paralyzed in Pool Accident Being Treated at Kessler; Community Raising Funds to Help Family
Thursday, August 16, 2012 • 6:00am
MAPLEWOOD, NJ - A year ago, Ryan Burbank was an active senior and athlete at Columbia High School. Now an accident has left him paralyzed and his family facing mounting difficulties as he undergoes treatment and prepares to go home.
Ryan, 18, is the son of Carol and Eric Burbank, who have been residents of Maplewood for 24 years. Eric is the director of public works for the township, and Carol is an early childhood teacher.
On Sunday, July 1, Ryan invited three friends over for a swim. Later that afternoon, he fell off the ladder into the pool, landing on his arms. Unable to move, he sank to the bottom of the pool. His friends kept him stable until the fire department arrived.
Ryan was taken to University Hospital where he was operated on that evening. The doctors fused bones in his spinal cord. Now paralyzed, Ryan has been diagnosed with tetraplegia, a spinal cord injury above the first thoracic vertebra.
It's a shocking change for the boy who played lacrosse for Columbia High School, and was a member of the traveling basketball team, the vibrant kid who worked at Village Tratorria and Village Burger and grew up a part of the Maplewood community.
Ryan is receiving treatment at Kessler Institute in West Orange, where he is in a neck brace to keep his head upright and immobile. He is able to move his shoulders and upper arms, but not able to use his hands or lower body.
Ryan will be in Kessler until the end of August, and then will go home. Before he can return home, the Burbanks' house will need to be renovated to accommodate his condition. The necessary renovations include ramps, bathroom and shower lift, and wider doorways. The Burbanks will also need to purchase a wheelchair accessible van.
Carol and Eric have been at Ryan’s side since the accident. Carol is on unpaid family leave from her position, and friends say the school is hoping to hold her job but it is not clear if and when she will return to work. Eric continues to work at Maplewood’s Department of Public Works.
You can make a tax-deductible contribution to help the Burbank family through HK Community Fund’s “HK C.A.R.E.S” program as they recover from this crisis. HK Community Fund will match the first $5,000 donated.
Please send donations via check made out to:
HK Community Fund
515 Valley Street Suite 130
Maplewood NJ 07040
Please write "Burbank" on the subject line.
The Alternative Press will provide updates on Ryan as they are available.