Man paralyzed after hockey injury stands for first time in two years

Two years ago, Matt Olson’s life changed forever during a hockey. He broke his neck, which paralyzed him from the chest down. Now, the Isanti native is celebrating a major milestone in his recovery process.

"You realize how tall you really are when you've been in a seated position in my chair and stuff,” said Olson. “Finally being that tall is really fun."

Olson was paralyzed from the chest down after falling into the boards face first while playing in a junior hockey game in Chicago two years ago. He spent 199 days in the hospital, then more time in physical therapy and getting used to the state-of-the-art wheelchair, which he controls by moving his head.

"Obviously in the beginning, you feel sad and down about it right away,” said Olson. “You quickly realize that's not going to help. You gotta believe and be strong. That's the only way you are going to get through it."

On Wednesday, his road to recovery hit a new high. He was able to stand 100 percent upright for the first time since the accident. Even though it was with the help of a special frame that supports his weight, Olson says it’s a giant step towards his ultimate goal of walking on his own once again.

"Getting up to that fully upright position was a big moment for me,” said Olson. “It may not seem like it for other people or at the time, but to look back at it, it’s a huge moment for me."

A plaque in his parent's house says, "It is what it is, but it will become what you make of it." Olson’s recent success shows he's ready to stand on his own two feet.

"I feel like I've become a better person because of my injury, which is weird to think about,” said Olson. “It’s brought out the strengths I have in me and my family."