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Monday, Sep 22, 2014
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Unclear whether two circus acrobats will walk again

Published:

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The medical professionals treating the acrobats who fell during a circus performance in Rhode Island say two of the women have spinal cord injuries and that time will tell whether they will walk again.

Timothy Babineau, CEO of Rhode Island Hospital’s parent company, said Wednesday the eight injured acrobats are determined to heal as quickly as possible and return to doing what they love.

Their neurosurgeon says two can feel their legs but have only limited movement. It may be a year or two before it’s clear whether they’ll heal completely and walk again.

Doctors say all of the acrobats will require physical therapy. The women want to undergo rehabilitation as a team.

The accident happened Sunday during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus performance in Providence.

The acrobats plunged about 20 feet to the ground during a hair-hanging act witnessed by thousands.

Local investigators cited a failed steel clip as the cause of the accident and turned the hardware and other material to federal workplace safety authorities. Fire investigator Paul Doughty said they have narrowed down the cause of the broken clip to two possibilities: a manufacturing defect or improper use.

The circus inspected its equipment Monday night when it loaded up in Providence and planned another inspection when it unloaded in Hartford, Connecticut, where it performs next, said Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Ellenton-based Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company.

The hair act won’t be performed in Hartford, the company said.

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