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Pole vaulter opens eyes, receives feeding tube

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Knoch freshman pole vaulter Ryan Adler opened his eyes briefly, looked around the room and clenched the hand of a therapist Tuesday morning. But he quickly went back into a deep sleep before doctors inserted a feeding tube down his throat for the first time since he arrived at Children's Hospital nine days ago.

Adler, 15, suffered trauma to his head in a pole vaulting accident April 18 at North Allegheny High School. He stalled midway into a vault attempt and fell awkwardly onto his head and shoulder.

Doctors gradually are taking Adler off medication that put him in a coma to reduce pressure on his brain.

Gradually, he is responding.

"He's moving his arms, so we know he's not paralyzed," said Dan Adler, Ryan's father. "He's not moving a ton, but he's moving. He seemed agitated with the feeding tube, but that's a good thing, too.

"They're taking him off the medicine so he can begin to do things on his own. It's up to Ryan now."

The Adlers know they must be patient with the situation.

"He's giving us signs," said Lisa Adler, Ryan's mother. "He's taking tiny, little steps at a time."

The accident has been difficult for the family, taking them out of their daily routines and draining them physically and emotionally.

A sleeping room at the hospital has become their camp ground.

But Maria Adler, Ryan's sister, who is a junior at Knoch, showed that time is on her side, winning the 200-meter dash in Knoch's meet against Hampton Tuesday.

She won the race in 29.1 seconds. That doesn't seem like a lot of time, but it's an eternity compared to the time her brother saw the hospital ceiling Tuesday.

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