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Cheryl Burke performs alongside AJ McLean on 'DWTS' despite head injury

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ABC/Eric McCandless

It was a real possibility that AJ McLean would be dancing with a new partner Monday night after dance pro Cheryl Burke suffered a terrifying head injury while rehearsing the day before.

Dancing with the Stars, which celebrated all things scary for a special Halloween-themed episode, experienced a terrifying situation when Burke slipped during stage rehearsal.

The two took a tumble when practicing their tango, with Burke slamming her head hard on the ballroom floor.  McLean added that he heard her head striking the floorboards and called for medical assistance.

Footage of the accident’s aftermath showed the dancer putting on a brave face while pressing an ice pack to her injury.  

Burke’s ability to perform on Monday was temporarily thrown into question, but the dance pro powered through the pain to join her partner on the ballroom floor for their tense and creepy tango, which paid homage to the horror film Psycho.

Judges Carrie Ann InabaBruno Tonioli and Derek Hough praised their complicated routine and, of course, Cheryl for toughing it out.

When asked by host Tyra Banks about her injuries, Burke joked, “I think I hurt my rotator cuff more than my neck. But, I’m hard-headed, thank god, right?”

McLean chimed in, saying he took her injury to heart and was mortified that she was injured in the first place.

“She’s a freaking trooper,” the Backstreet Boy praised, noting to Banks that all he wanted to do was protect his friend the moment he heard her head hit the floor. “She’s family now. I got to protect her, just like she does for me.”

The pair placed third Monday night, earning an overall score of 26 out of 30.

DWTS returns Monday and, with it, a surprise double elimination, 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

By Megan Stone
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