The title pretty much says it all and should be enough, but I'm honestly asking the question motivated by an alleged case of healing that went viral in 2010. The description of the case is presented below for illustrative purposes, although it's not fundamental to answer the question:

Delia Knox was claimed to have been healed of lower body paralysis after being prayed for during one of the services held at the Bay Revival, in 2010. The paralysis was allegedly due to a car accident with a drunk driver in 1987, which injured and paralyzed her lower body and forced her to depend on wheelchairs for about 22.5 years prior to the healing. The healing itself was recorded live and can be found on YouTube, as well as interviews with Delia Knox and her husband (example 1, example 2). There is even footage of Delia visiting her parents and neighbors a few days after the healing, who were evidently amazed and moved to see her walking again.

Understanding what truly happened in this case is very intriguing to me. Unfortunately, there appear to be no medical records for this particular case, preventing a more rigorous analysis. However, I would like to know if there are verified medical records of something similar ever happening in medical science history. Has there ever been a medically verified case of someone having a big part of their body paralyzed for years, due to a car accident or similar event, who eventually recovered the normal functioning of their paralyzed body part? If there are such records, what are the most plausible explanations?

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it's asking about a specific case for which there are no public medical records.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 18:09
  • @BryanKrause but the fact Delia was in a wheelchair for decades is undeniable, as evidenced by multiple live recordings, as well as the fact that the turning point that led to her healing was the revivalist service where she got prayed for. Given these facts, and the immense popularity of the event, don't you think it may warrant at least consideration from a hypothetical standpoint, even if we don't have direct access to medical records yet?
    – user20368
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 18:18
  • You can say it is undeniable, but that's not how medical science works. Undeniability is the realm of religion. As I've explained to you before, if you have an extraordinary claim to make, the onus is on you to provide evidence for that claim, not on everyone else to disprove it.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 18:20
  • 1
    I am saying that someone saying "I was healed by a miracle" is not scientific evidence that someone was healed by a miracle.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 18:30
  • 1
    All that's undeniable is that people have seen her use a wheelchair. And that proves absolutely nothing. People often engage in "well coordinated" hoaxes to qualify for disability insurance. Whether it was a miracle, fraud, or an unlikely natural recovery is impossible to know.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Yes, but it's extremely rare and I could only find one example.

You asked:

Has there ever been a medically verified case of someone having a big part of their body paralyzed for years, due to a car accident or similar event, who eventually recovered the normal functioning of their paralyzed body part?

It's very rare but I did find one example:

The patient, a 58-year-old male, endured vertebral fractures at cervical levels C3–C6 in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 22. The patient did not have any respiratory problem and his stay in the ICU was limited to 5 days. Following the injury, the patient underwent manual motor testing of lower and upper body muscles groups as well as sensory testing. The motor testing involved examination of flexion and extension of upper body (shoulder, elbow, and wrist), and lower body joints (hip, knee, and ankle), and sensory testing involved examination of sensation to pinprick and light touch on both hands and feet. Initially, the patient had no motor or sensory function below the level of injury. Motor and sensory function at the sacral level was also absent, which was tested during the bladder evacuation and catheter placement procedure. This injury is equivalent to an ASIA A (ASIA: American Spinal Injury Association), or a “complete” injury, according to today's ASIA impairment scale (AIS) (Maynard et al., 1997), which did not exist at the time of the patient's injury.

The case history goes on to describe his recovery:

He experienced slow and progressive neurological recovery that continued for 17 years after the injury. The first neurological recovery, movement of the left big toe (a grade 1 motor function), occurred 6 weeks after the injury. The first recovery of sensation occurred 6 months after the injury in the form of a painful dysesthetic sensation in the pelvis. Eleven months after the injury, the patient was able to perform complex upper body motor functions such as sitting up without assistance. Complex lower body motor functions such as ability to walk unassisted were recovered 15 months after the injury. Concomitantly, the patient recovered autonomic nervous system functions (i.e., a high degree of bladder and bowel functions were recovered up to 64 months after the injury) although many remain abnormal (Table ​(Table1).1). Currently, his injury is categorized as ASIA D. His latest AIS evaluation (Figure ​(Figure1)1) showed that he has regained 94% of motor function in the upper body and 100% in the lower body. The patient manifests incomplete and asymmetric motor recovery in his hands—i.e., his left hand is more functional then the right one. He has also regained 23% of sensory function in the upper body (above the level of T7), but only 10% in the lower body.

You then ask:

If there are such records, what are the most plausible explanations?

This is purely my opinion but I would say normal regrowth of neurons explains it. The fact that the first hint of recovery occurred after six weeks and then it took another 17 years for him to achieve the degree of partial recovery he ended up with is a strong argument for entirely natural processes. Neurons can reconnect, but it's known to be a very slow process.

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