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Woman paralysed on one side after 13ft fall returns home after relearning how to walk, breathe, and cough

PUBLISHED: 08:10 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:58 20 June 2019

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

Nina Jussila

A Norwich woman who was left paralysed after falling 13ft and landing on her head during an aerial trick has described her recovery as a "miracle".

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

Nina Jussila, 29, has just returned to her city home after spending 13 weeks in hospital recovering from the horrific accident, which left her paralysed on one side of her body and unable to walk.

Miss Jussila, who works teaching entrepreneurship to university students, took up performing using aerial silks as a hobby around four and a half years ago.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

But on March 7 she was perfecting a new trick when one wrong move sent her plummeting to the floor, where she landed on her head.

She said: "Usually you just bounce back, but it was my whole body on top of me. It happened really quickly."

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

Friends rushed to help her, with one checking if she could feel parts of her body as paramedics were called.

Miss Jussila said: "I'm kind of lucky because I had my head really clear all the time, I could feel my brain was working fine, but with the rest of my body I could not feel anything."

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

When Miss Jussila arrived at hospital an X-ray showed her fourth and fifth vertebra were damaged, with the latter dislocated and putting pressure on her spine.

And after seven hours of surgery - where she had to be awake to make sure further damage was not done - Miss Jussila found that while she could feel pain in her left side, she could not move it.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

What followed was weeks of intensive treatment, both at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and in hospital in Sheffield.

And all of Miss Jussila's hard work paid off when on May 10 she walked unaided for the first time, but the road to recovery had not been easy as she described the tiny victories along the way.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

"In my head, I was moving my fingers and I'd ask if they were moving and people would say no. But one day I was just practicing and they moved. That really kept me going because I could see it."

As part of her recovery Miss Jussila had to lie on her back to rest her spine for five weeks, to alleviate any bruising and not cause further problems.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

But she said in that time she kept audio diaries, as she could not write, and listened to audiobooks to keep her mind active.

She also had to relearn how to breathe, cough, and use her bladder.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

She said: "As long as you keep your mind positive and believe in the recovery as well."

Despite her ordeal Miss Jussila has not been put off aerial silks, and said she hoped in the future she'd be able to take up her hobby again.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

"It might take some time and I might not be able to do the crazy things I've done before," she said. "But I definitely hope I'll do it again.

"I just have to take it easy, the recovery is a long term thing. My left shoulder doesn't move a lot and I'll continue rehab as an outpatient.

Nina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina JussilaNina Jussila, from Norwich, who fell 13ft from aerial silks while practicing a new trick. Photo: Nina Jussila

"I was just so lucky because even if [the vertebrae] had just gone a little further I could've been completely paralysed. It's a miracle."

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