Aylesbury's Stoke Mandeville Hospital helps paralysed mum-of-three after horrific fall while horse riding

"I was scared to pick up a hot drink but now I've built up enough strength in my arms to do it myself."

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 1:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 1:38 pm

On September 29, 2018, life changed in an instant for Sarah Wilson as she fell from her horse while out riding.

The 35-year-old knew something was terribly wrong when she couldn’t move to fetch her phone from her bum-bag.

She lay on the ground for an hour and half, before her colleague’s three-year-old daughter eventually found her and sought help.

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Sarah Wilson in Stoke Mandeville Hospital

She said: “It was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. Despite my phone being in my bum bag, I simply couldn’t move. I was conscious for the whole time and I remember everything so clearly.”

Sarah was taken by air ambulance to Addenbrooke's Hospital and after several tests and scans was told a severe break in her neck had caused damage to her spinal cord and this was causing the paralysis.

Despite wearing protection, Sarah had broken her neck in the one-inch gap between the bottom of her hat and the top of her body protector, leaving her paralysed from the chest down. She needed emergency surgery and then, following complications, was placed into a coma for several weeks.

A few months later, Sarah was moved to the specialist spinal cord injury unit at Aylesbury's Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where she spent the next 14 months as part of her rehabilitation.

Sarah Wilson

Stoke Mandeville hospital in Aylesbury contains the National Spinal Injuries Centre and received international recognition for it's work on spinal injuries. The centre won the Commision on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities award in 2011 in recognition for "practice excellence" in the care of adult and paediatric patients with spinal cord injury.

Sarah also paid tribute to the role a not-for-profit organisation Neurokinex in Hemel Hempstead played in her recovery.

She said: “He was chatting to me about how life-changing their rehab was and how it was the perfect transition once you come out of hospital.

“My physio found out more and referred me to Neurokinex for six free sessions. This was a massive weight off my shoulders.”

As part of her rehab, Sarah is receiving Neurokinex’s pioneering electrical muscle stimulation treatment combined with its activity-based rehab programme to work below her point of injury.

She added: “I’m so much stronger now, both physically and mentally. There are so many things before that I would have taken for granted like brushing my girls hair and doing my make up.

"Now, thanks to Neurokinex and the work they are doing with me, I’m able to do these again. It’s such a confidence boost.

"Even something simple like having a hot drink was lost to me after my accident,” said Sarah, of Bedfordshire. “I was scared to pick up a hot drink but now I’ve built up enough strength in my arms and hands to do this myself. Neurokinex has truly given me the confidence in my new body.

“It’s really hard to say what the future might hold, but for now I’m really focusing on being able to transfer out of my wheelchair by myself.

"Ultimately, I’d love to be able to drive again. As a mum this would mean the world to me as I could go once again do simple tasks for my family. Who knows, watch this space."