You may not know by looking at his frequent appearances as a talking head on Fox News, but syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer has been paralyzed since he was 22 years old.

The physician-turned-commentator opened up to Fox News's Bret Baier in 2013 to discuss how one fateful day changed the rest of his life.

Near the end of his first year at Harvard Medical School, Krauthammer decided to cut classes to play tennis and go for a swim. The class he skipped was a lesson on the spinal cord.

He told Baier:

“We go for a swim. We take a few dives, and I hit my head on the bottom of the pool ... The amazing thing is there was not even a cut on my head. It just hit at precisely the angle where all the force was transmitted to one spot, and that is the cervical vertebrae which severed the spinal cord.”

Here's where the cervical vertebrae is located:

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Krauthammer said that as soon as it happened and he hit the bottom of the pool, he knew he was paralyzed:

“I knew exactly what happened, I knew why I wasn't able to move, and I knew what that meant: I wasn't getting out.”

Here's the last photo taken of Krauthammer standing, taken in Bermuda:

Image Credit: Screenshot/Fox News
Screenshot/Fox News

Unable to move his arms or legs, Krauthammer would remain hospitalized for 14 months.

Krauthammer is one of millions of Americans dealing with the challenges of paralysis, according to the New York Times:

“A study to be released on Tuesday by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation reports that far more Americans than previously estimated are paralyzed to some degree: 5.6 million people, representing 1.9 percent of the population, or roughly 1 in 50 Americans.”

The leading cause is stroke, followed by spinal cord injuries.

Despite the huge hurdle in front of him, Krauthammer would continue to pursue his medical degree while in the hospital and go on to finish in 1975, becoming a psychiatry researcher for the Carter administration three years later.

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