Jessen expected to make full recovery from broken neck

WEBSTER CITY – It all happened so fast.

Brandon Jessen was battling Sioux City East’s Josh Shambach for a spot in the 152-pound finals at the Don Miller Invitational in Fort Dodge on Saturday, Dec. 21, and in the time it takes someone to snap their fingers it was all over.

The match. The season. His career.

“The moment I hit the mat I knew it was bad and I knew my season was over,” Jessen, a Webster City senior, said. “I remember I just kept thinking, ‘Man, I’m done.'”

Jessen suffered a fractured C1 vertebra on what the official called an illegal slam. He won the match, but he was in too much pain to even acknowledge it.

“I was in a lot of pain and just really worried about my neck,” he said.

Jessen was transported to Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge before eventually being moved to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.

Jessen spent the first night in the ICU and says the pain, coupled with fear, made for a long stretch of hours.

“I was pretty scared,” he said. “I was being moved around to different rooms in the hospital and I just wanted to know how the CT scans turned out and things like that.”

On Sunday, Dec. 22, Jessen finally heard some good news; doctors told him that surgery wouldn’t be required to fix the damage.

Jessen will remain in a neck and chest brace until late March when he will begin physical therapy. Now nearly two weeks after the injury occurred, he says he’s beginning to feel like his old self again.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” he said. “The soreness is starting to get a lot better. I’m still a little stiff, but otherwise I’m moving a lot more than I was.”

Doctors have told Jessen they expect him to make a full recovery – a welcome piece of good news and something that he questioned when the injury first occurred.

“I was very relieved,” he said. “The neurosurgeon said that I should be great, I just have to stay out of physical sports.

“I’m just very thankful that it didn’t turn out worse. I’m very lucky to still be here.”