Confidence restored following terrifying fall

When 73-year-old Glen had an operation on her eyes, she went to stay at her sister’s house to recover. Upon her return home, she woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and, thinking she was still at her sister’s house, accidentally stepped into the stairwell and fell.

Glen couldn’t move at all except for her right arm. Fighting to breathe and stay conscious, she wasn’t found until 8am when her husband woke.

Glen was flown to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney and was diagnosed with an incomplete spinal injury. Following surgery and acute care, Glen was transferred to the Spinal Injury Unit (SIU) at Royal Rehab. She was using a manual wheelchair, but had reduced strength and dexterity in her hands, and was finding fine and gross motor tasks difficult.

Glen’s rehabilitation was focused around her goals: to improve her mobility and confidence, particularly with regard to walking unassisted, and to improve the strength and dexterity in her upper limbs.

With daily gym sessions and hydrotherapy, Glen made excellent progress with her balance, strength and confidence and was eventually able to manage stairs and walk unaided indoors. She continued to use a walking stick outdoors, mainly for reassurance as she was afraid of falling again. The team helped Glen learn more effective wheelchair skills so she could use the chair for longer distances and when out and about in the community.


Through exercises and therapy in the productive garden and kitchen, Glen improved the strength and dexterity in her hands, which significantly improved her ability to perform functional tasks, such as cooking. This has given her a huge boost in terms of her independence and allowed her to get back to her beloved garden and re-join her sketching group.

“My therapy was focused on what I wanted to achieve and the facilities at Royal Rehab were excellent. The grounds are exceptional — the parklands and the duck pond were just beautiful!”

Back in her home, Glen commented, “therapy was certainly hard work, but I feel very lucky to have my life back on track.”