14-year-old boy paralyzed in tornado walks out of St. Louis hospital weeks later

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Two weeks after the storm he arrived at Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in St. Louis unable to move his legs. This past week, he walked out on his own.

ST. LOUIS — Sometimes, the best medicine is movement.

Fourteen-year-old Kyle Koehn is on a journey to recovery at Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital.

“He had a fracture that involved every vertebrae in his back,” explained Dr. Connie Simmons, a Ranken-Jordan Pediatrician.

And his rehabilitation has been the light after the storm.

It all began last December when the devastating Quad-State tornado was causing destruction over 200 miles across four states.

The Koehn family, from Dresden, Tennessee, had just returned from dinner when a friend told them about tornado warnings.

“He made the comment, keep your shoes on tonight,” Kyle’s dad Darwin Koehn said.

As it turned out, their house might as well have had a target painted on the roof. As the twister got closer, they huddled in a hallway.

“The house started dusting a little bit and you could see it and I was like this is for real,” remembers Kimberly Koehn, Kyle’s mom.

“[I] heard the house start splintering and that’s the last we remember until we woke up in the field,” Darwin said.

Two hundred homes, the firehouse, two churches and more than twenty businesses were destroyed or damaged in Dresden. Most of the Koehn family was propelled 180 feet from their house. Kyle was a few yards away.

“And he was moaning,” said Darwin. “And I said right there, that boy is hurt bad.”

“I don’t remember the pain so much. I just remember it was cold and it was wet,” Kyle said.

Two weeks after the tornado, Kyle was admitted to Ranken-Jordan.

“He had no feeling from his umbilicus, his belly button and basically down,” Dr. Simmons told us.

When healing is the most important thing, attitude is everything.

“We knew this was a kid that was going to fight hard,” Dr. Simmons said.

Ranken’s mission is to transition kids from the hospital to home and Kyle devoted himself to his therapy sessions. He turned I wish into I will.

“They’ll make you do stuff that you think is really hard but they’ll make you do it,” Kyle said with half a smile.

Making it even more remarkable, this young man was doing it while the rest of his family was still in Tennessee. His mom and dad were also hospitalized with broken bones.

“The first time we saw him was here six weeks later,” Kimberly said. “That’s how long it took for us to recover enough to travel up here.”

But today is a big day.

After weeks of never giving up, Kyle’s friends and family are picking him up. His school chartered a bus from Tennessee to bring him home after he’d been discharged.

Still, for the family, it’s somewhat bittersweet.

“It’s going to be hard to leave, honestly,” said an emotional Kimberly. “They have become very dear friends to us.”

“They’ve been wonderful, couldn’t ask for better,” added Kyle.

Kyle’s road to recovery still has some miles to go.

“We’re expecting that to continue to improve,” said Dr. Simmons. “So he can return to some fun teenage activities.”

It still might be a while until he’s doing everything he used to do but here’s one young man showing us all that with the right help, you can take healing by storm.