A fitness fanatic was left paralysed from the neck down after she fell on her head while she performed a sit up at the gym.
23-year-old Marcelle Mancuso, broke a vertebrae after she slipped off a bench while she was performed ‘inverted’ sit ups.
Doctors warned her she could be tetraplegic for life – they fitted a titanium plate held by six screws into her spine.
Yet after months of physiotherapy, she gradually regained movement in a toe or finger at a time and now, the law graduate is back in fighting form at the gym – she’s even brave enough to be doing the inverted sit-ups again.
It was just another normal day of training. I went to perform the abdominal inverted sit up and was upside down. I was attached to the equipment with a strip, which broke and the personal trainer could not hold me.
I hit the back of my head on the floor and immediately lost all body movements with the blow.
My diagnosis was tetraplegia – no movement in my arms or legs. The doctors didn’t know if I would walk again or if I would stay on a bed forever.
I was afraid, but my faith always spoke louder and I thanked God for being alive. My parents were desperate with fear of losing me but I was always very determined.
I gave my best every day in physical therapy. I thought if my movements didn’t come back it wouldn’t be my fault, it would be destiny.
I was willing to fight until the last minute. Gradually my movement came back. The doctors were surprised by my recovery.
One day when I was in the doctor’s office thanking the doctor who operated on me, he said: ‘Do not thank me, thank the guy from the top – this is his work’ – meaning God.
Marcelle, who does bodybuilding, running and Muay Thai – injured her neck while she was working out at a gym in Sao Jose do Rio Preto in Brazil.
As a result of her accident, she broke the fifth vertebrae in her neck and knocked one out of place.
She also compressed her spinal cord.
Marcelle recalls how she lost all movements from the neck down, the minute her head hit the floor, so she began to pray.
She was rushed to hospital where doctors had to graft bone onto her smashed vertebrae and fitted a metal plate into her spine.
Despite their efforts, doctors didn’t know whether this would result in her being able to walk, but after three days, she began to wiggle her toes and fingers.
After just one week, she could stand up with assistance and one month after the accident, she took her first steps.
After four months I started to improve my leg strength and five months after the accident, I stopped having fainting and dizziness while walking.
After six months I managed to walk and my legs did not sway any more.
Marcelle is now back in the gym and more active than ever.
She says the whole ordeal feels like a nightmare she’s woken up from.
I have a normal life today and thank God all the time for it!
I learned to value the simplest things in life, such as getting out of bed and being able to brush my teeth without the help.
I want to help and inspire so many people who are going through difficult times. While you’re alive, you have a chance.
Life can be incredible from various perspectives, it just depends on us and the love we carry in our hearts.
To be honest, it’s incredible she even brought herself to get back on the inverted sit-up bench after what happened.