Noelle Miranda, a senior at Parkview High School, is used to falling down. The gymnast-turned-cheerleader admits she has a history of occasionally tripping over her own feet.
But the manner in which she fell during a cheerleading practice in August 2010 stood apart from other trips and falls.
"It was just one of those rare things," said Annette Miranda, Noelle's mother.
Noelle started gymnastics at an early age, showing an early comfort with tumbling. In the fifth grade, Noelle made the change to cheerleading, a change that was made smoother by past experience.
"The floor routine was my favorite part of gymnastics, and cheerleading basically is floor," Noelle said. "It was just an easy transition."
By the time Noelle reached high school, she was participating on both the sideline and competitive cheerleading squads. Following her sophomore year, she decided to just focus on competitive.
"After two years, my body decided that the hard floor (of the gym) wasn't for me," she said. "(Competitive) is a lot more time, but it is a little easier on the body."
While performing a routine tumbling pass during practice, however, Noelle tripped.
"Trying to save my face, I put my arms out," Noelle said. "One arm went out like it was supposed to. The other came into my body."
The awkward position of her left arm forced it to carry all of her weight, snapping both bones in the forearm. Although she knew something wasn't right after it happened, Noelle did not panic or feel much pain.
"I couldn't feel it because when my bone broke, it damaged the nerve," she said. "But I heard the sound it made, and I felt a tingling feeling, like when your foot falls asleep. Then I rolled over; I saw that it wasn't in one piece. It was kind of just hanging there."
The Right Place
Noelle's coaches rushed her to the Emergency Department at Egleston hospital. After a quick phone call from the coaches, Noelle's mother was not far behind.
"It was a parent's nightmare," Annette said. "The one night I was not there, I get a phone call from the coach saying they were on their way to the hospital."
Annette was glad her daughter's coaches took her to Egleston, despite the hospital's distance from practice. Noelle received an X-ray when she arrived at the Emergency Department to confirm the severity of the fracture.
"They are experts in treating children," Annette said of Children's. "They have small needles, small arm cuffs. It is geared toward children. The coaches thought it was the best place to take her, and I agreed."
Recovery and Return
Noelle had surgery to repair the two compound fractures a few days later. She had two titanium plates placed on the bones to provide additional stability.
Because of the fractures also caused nerve trauma, she had to go to physical therapy for several months to build back complete function in her left arm. But that didn't stop her from returning to cheerleading practice as soon as possible, even if her role was limited.
"I don't like sitting out. It is not fun," she said. "Most of the time I would be sitting at practice doing my homework."
Three years since the injury, Noelle is back performing the same stunts she was before. On top of practicing with her All-Star competition team, the Stingrays, Noelle is researching colleges that will allow her to continue her cheerleading career.
"I don't know what I would do without some kind of sport," she said.