ONSLOW COUNTY - A Jacksonville High School senior injured in a January wrestling match is traveling for rigorous treatment. "I want to get up off this chair," said Hugo Rubirosa.
Hugo, a 17-year-old wrestler at the time of his injury, broke the fourth and fifth vertebrae in his neck during a match at West Carteret High School on January third.
"I can't reach up any higher than this," said Rubirosa as he strained to lift his arms, barely reaching shoulder level.
The issue - Rubirosa regained limited movement in his arms and sensation in his legs months ago, but progress has been at a standstill since. "I feel like things have just stopped," he said.
Rubirosa, who has four weekly physical therapy sessions in Onslow County, says he is just building muscle. But the former track star, football player, wrestler and independent teen wants more.
"I still carry myself in a manner that I just keep going, but this isn't life," Rubirosa said. "My daily life experiences would cripple someone's mind."
Maria Rodriguez, Rubirosa's mom, says he needs the assistance of a nurse for approximately 12 hours a day. Before the accident, getting ready for school was a cinch. Now Rubirosa says it takes more than two hours. It is for this reason that Friday was Rubirosa's last day at Jacksonville High School for awhile. Currently, Rubirosa is at the Shepherd Center in Atlantam, a top-ranked facility which specializes in treating people with spinal cord injuries.
On Monday, Rubirosa met with doctors for an initial evaluation.
"I hope that at least my hands come to function," said Rubirosa. "I hope that they got something that no one else has."
Although doctors say there are no promises, Hugo is not giving up hope. The biggest challenge for this athlete lies in the months ahead.