Home » After ‘brutal car accident’ doctors said she would never run again. Two years later, she ran a half marathon

After ‘brutal car accident’ doctors said she would never run again. Two years later, she ran a half marathon

by Today

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Kaylen Ardiles-Cervera loved running. “I found with running, the only metric is me. There was such a joy in that, and in seeing how much more capable my body was becoming. Stamina changes everything,” she tells TODAY.com.

By December 2021, she had been running for five years, and she was training for the New York City Marathon when her life took a drastic turn.

She had flown to Florida to celebrate her sister’s birthday. “I was en route to drop off decorations at the banquet hall, and I was struck by a car coming in the opposite direction,” she says. “It was a distracted-driving situation.”

Her car almost flipped over. She woke up in the ICU a couple of days later with a concussion, inflammation, and nerve and spinal cord damage. A protective brace encased her: “My body just felt like lead. It was pretty brutal,” she says.

Ardiles-Cervera had always been able to depend on her body for strength and stamina. Now, she couldn’t move one side at all: “Because of the amount of inflammation from the impact, one side of my body was just not responding.”

There was no timeline for when — or if — she might recover. One doctor had a long conversation with her, where he painted a bleak picture and tried to set her expectations at the bare minimum.

“He wrote off a lot of things. He said I should just be content with walking, and we could see what happens once I get through physical therapy. I was so idealistic. I had no idea what I was in for. In my mind, I thought, ‘I’ll start walking really easily,’” she says. “It was difficult to find my new norm.”

During her rehab, Ardiles-Cervera transitioned from a wheelchair to a walker and finally to a cane.Courtesy Kaylen Ardiles-Cervera

Navigating the road to recovery

Ardiles-Cervera was hospitalized in Florida, hundreds of miles from her New York City home,…

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