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2 acrobats injured in a job-related accident may never walk again

Many people, whether in North Carolina or elsewhere, hold their breath when watching circus acrobats perform. It is all too easy to imagine that a rope could come loose or a hand could lose its hold -- plunging all involved to the ground. The recent fall of eight performers who were injured in a job-related accident shows all too clearly that worst-case imaginings can sometimes become reality.

The eight are performers with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. They were performing a feat that required them to hang by their hair by an apparatus that turned them into what was called a human chandelier. The clip that held the apparatus failed, which plunged the performers downward about 20 feet before they collided with the ground.

Two of the performers suffered injuries to their spinal cord. It is not certain if they will ever regain full use of their legs. Treatment could take as long as two years before it produces results, according to doctors.

Only one of the injured acrobats was able to walk without assistance at the time this report was written. Several remained in intensive care. Their injuries covered the gamut of what one might expect in these circumstances, including broken bones, cuts and bruises. Spinal fractures and internal injuries are also possible.

Doctors say some of the women should be able to go home soon. They stress that all of them will require further treatment, including physical therapy, before further performances are even a possibility. That is not expected to happen for several months, if at all.

Circus officials said in a statement that anyone who performs in a circus is aware of the danger he or she faces every time they get into the ring. That may be true, but it offers little comfort to the people who were injured in a job-related accident. Like most workers, whether in North Carolina or another state, they may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. A successfully filed claim could provide the means that allow them to complete their treatment and cover their expenses during this much-needed period of recovery and recuperation.

Source: CBS News, "Only time will tell if 2 injured circus acrobats will walk again, doctors say", , May 7, 2014

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