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Paralyzed Gymnast Adjusts To Life After Fall

ORLANDO, Fla.-- An Orlando gymnast who was paralyzed after a fall is determined to get her life back.

Boone High School senior Dounia Bendris was practicing at Broadway Gymnastics in Oviedo when she slipped off the uneven bars, broke two ribs, collapsed a lung and severed her spinal cord.

Doctors told the 17-year-old that she was paralyzed from the waist down four days after Christmas.

It was kind of a shock and upsetting," Bendris said.

Bendris is now a paraplegic who must use a wheelchair to get around. She said that life has changed for her since the fall, but that she is not focusing on her limitations.

"I'm used to training four hours a day," said Bendris, who is re-learning many life skills. "It's not much different than balancing school and gymnastics."

The Bendris family said they have hired an attorney to investigate whether the club did everything it could to prevent their daughter's injury.

"There's some real questions," said personal injury lawyer Mark NeJame. "Whether there were issues of supervision, equipment and maintenance -- those are legitimate concerns."

The gym's general manager they did nothing wrong and that they are supporting Bendris' road to recovery by selling fundraising buttons that say "Do it for Dounia."

"We're here to support you. You need to keep pressing on. You can do it," said general manager Ellen Woodley. "We did everything we were supposed to do -- proper matting, proper equipment, proper training and progression level."

Bendris still plans to graduate with her senior class and head to the University of Florida to become an engineer. She recently received a visit from the Orlando Magic Dancers.

"I just want to thank everyone for the support. They've really helped a lot," she said, adding that she hopes to leave the hospital in February.

Copyright © 2010, by WESH.COM
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