Since February 3rd, Mike Glemser’s (25) life is nothing like it used to be. In the ninth minute of the Oberliga game in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Rosenheim striker crashed into the rink with full force. The terrible diagnosis: fracture of the fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae. The spinal cord was damaged, Glemser is paraplegic from the neck down. He was in an artificial coma for ten days and underwent two operations. One of the vertebrae was replaced with an implant.

The new extreme situation affects Glemser mentally and physically. “The challenge is not to lose hope,” says father Ken Glemser. “As an athlete, you are generally impatient and want to move. But he has a long road ahead of him. If something should work again, it won’t happen overnight. So there are moments when he lies in bed and cries. He says he’ll go crazy if he stays in bed any longer, but he has no choice.”

Glemser has been in Murnau Hospital since the accident. He can no longer move his legs, wrists and fingers. He can only tense his biceps. “But the opponent, i.e. the triceps, is missing,” explains Ken Glemser. “So you have to put your arm back down because he can’t lower it himself. The physiotherapists work to ensure that the muscle does not shorten. Otherwise he would always have bent arms later on.”

Glemser has to be artificially ventilated with a machine. “The diaphragm is affected,” says Father Glemser. Otherwise the diaphragm pushes the air out of the lungs. The 25-year-old’s biceps tense and slightly squeeze his chest. “These are cramps that he has there,” says Father Glemser.

Due to the cannula in the throat and the exertion, secretions keep forming in the lungs. This must be sucked off. “The machine causes a fluttering movement on the lungs to loosen the mucus and then suck it out with a hose,” says Glemser. “That’s not how the lungs come to rest. He has to cough and works against the machine. He doesn’t have enough pressure to get the mucus up on his own.”

When breathing, Glemser has to think about the fact that he is breathing. “Sometimes he doesn’t feel like he’s getting air, although that’s actually happening on the bike,” says Ken Glemser. “It’s like a kind of death by drowning, but it only happens in your head. It signals: I can’t breathe anymore! Then someone has to suck the mucus out of him. Mentally extreme. Then I try to calm him down.”

In the future, Glemser will have to learn a new breathing technique in which the abdominal muscles push the air out of the lungs. He tries to breathe without a machine for two hours up to four times a day. Then there are moments when Glemser also laughs – when teammates like Steffen Tölzer (37) come to visit.

Physiotherapists come during the day. Among other things, the legs are mobilized with a machine to keep the muscles alive and not stiffen the joints. The next milestone is breathing independently without a machine. To avoid being bedridden and then, after a lot of practice, getting into a wheelchair. The physiotherapy can then be further intensified.

The hope is that Glemser will one day be able to use his biceps to control his wrists so that he can operate a wheelchair. The hands are currently clenched into fists. “This is supposed to shorten the tendons so that we can hopefully later move the fingers over the wrists,” says Ken Glemser. “You let your wrist hang down, then your fingers open slightly. If I then pull the wrist up, the fingers close. That way he could grab something.” You have to wait and hope “that one or the other nerve will regenerate or that new connections will form,” says Ken Glemser.

Another problem: If Glemser can later sit in a wheelchair, he has to prepare his body for it. “During the sitting phase, the blood sinks down and the circulatory system collapses,” says Ken Glemser. “He has to relearn how to sit so that the body can pump the blood everywhere again.”

The body sometimes reacts uncontrollably: “If something falls down with a loud noise, it gets spastic,” says Ken Glemser. “The muscles contract uncontrollably. He also has to get this under control because so much can happen there.”

The Starbulls Rosenheim started a fundraising campaign for Glemser: Over 400,000 euros have already been raised. “We thank you very much for the great help,” says father Glemser. “The commitment of the Starbulls is outstanding.” Together with father Ken and girlfriend Lara, the Glemser club is on hand. “We have to work – for him,” says the father.

In the future, Glemser is to move to his home town of Stuttgart. There he would have to find an apartment that could be converted to make it suitable for the disabled. Everything is very expensive and can hardly be done without financial support. Read above how you can support Mike Glemser.

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The text was written for the sports competence center (WELT, SPORT BILD, BILD) and first published in SPORT BILD.