A jet ski accident left him paralyzed. He left the Providence Spine Institute on his own two feet.

October 25, 2019 Providence Health Team

“From my hospital window, I could see the beach where everything happened,” recalls Providence Spine Institute patient Randy White.

The jet skiing excursion that landed him here in August 2018 had begun like so many others he’d enjoyed over the years. Blue sky. Blue water. “I set out to live my best life,” says Randy. But that day, just 10 minutes into his ride, a wake wave hit him and tossed him off his jet ski. He remembers feeling the impact when he came down on the steering column, then the shock of finding himself face-down in the water, unable to move or to feel anything – just holding his breath and hoping help would come fast.

Randy was rushed to a local hospital, but as the days passed, he still had no feeling below the neck. It was clear that he would need very specialized help. He and his wife explored several options, and their research brought them to the Providence Spine Institute at Providence Little Company of Mary. Based on “a plethora of accolades and five-star ratings,” says Randy, “it felt like this was the place to be.”


Randy describes his experience from the scene of the accident, six months after it happened.

At the Spine Institute, a team of specialists explained his injury, what they planned to do about it, and what Randy could expect afterward. “I’m a general contractor, and I work with my hands every day,” says Randy. “That’s my life, so it was paramount that I regain my mobility and motion.” After talking with his surgeon, he says, “I had a lot of confidence. The attitude was never, ‘it’s not going to happen.’ It was always, ‘when it will happen.’”

The accident had compressed several vertebrae in Randy’s neck, putting pressure on his spinal cord and nerves. His surgeon performed a cervical laminectomy, an operation to decompress the area and relieve the pressure. Waking up afterwards, Randy felt a prickling feeling in his arms – painful, but a good sign. Another good sign: that view, framed by his hospital window, of the beach that he hoped to return to.

Just three days after the surgery, Randy was doing well enough to move to the hospital’s Transitional Care Center (TCC) to begin rehabilitation. “That’s when the real work began,” he says. In the TCC, Randy put in four hours of intensive therapy every day. “The lead therapist literally wrote the book on rehabilitation,” he says. “She was incredibly knowledgeable, and everybody there was willing to work just as hard as I was toward my recovery.” With their help, Randy made steady progress, and a few weeks after the accident, he was able to walk out the door and return home.

Back support means more here

Fortunately, most back problems aren’t quite as serious as Randy’s. But anyone who’s experienced back or neck pain, regardless of the cause, knows what a profound effect it can have on your life.

The Providence Spine Institute team offers the full support of experts in every aspect of back and neck care, from advanced conservative therapies to state-of-the-art surgical solutions. Whether the cause of pain is a simple muscle strain or a complex neurological issue, we tailor the right care to your specific condition. Our experienced neurologic and orthopedic surgeons, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, exercise therapists and pain experts all work toward the same goals: to relieve your pain, restore your function and return you to good health.

Over the past year, Randy has recovered about 95% of his movement and function, and with the help of his Spine Institute team, he continues to make progress. He walks and runs now without assistance; he has returned to work, and he’s back to visiting his favorite beach, although his doctor has advised him to take it easy on the contact sports – no jet skiing for now.

It’s been a lot of work, says Randy, and he couldn’t be more grateful to the people at the Providence Spine Institute who have continued to work alongside him, from inpatient care to home health to outpatient therapy. “I never felt like I was alone in this walk.”

The Providence Spine Institute serves patients throughout Southern California. Find our back and neck experts near you.

Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance
Saint John’s Health Center
Saint Joseph Medical Center
Tarzana Medical Center
Holy Cross Medical Center
St. Jude Medical Center
St. Joseph Hospital Orange  
Mission Hospital Mission Viejo

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