A GCU graduate who broke her back falling out a window is celebrating Spinal Injury Day by finishing her degree in sports.

Adrienne Thomson fell out a window on Christmas night when she was eighteen years old, breaking her back in three places and leaving her unsure if she would walk again.

Today, Adrienne, now 26, is celebrating finishing her third diploma degree in sports at Glasgow Caledonian University and coaching sports while in lockdown.

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With today being Spinal Injury Day, Adrienne wants to share her story about how playing sports and staying active saved her life after her 20foot fall.

Adrienne told The Glasgow Times about the night she fell: “It was Christmas night in 2013 and I had been at a family party, and we had come home for some drinks.

“I was talking to my boyfriend and was too hot and wanted some air, so was sitting on the window sill with my legs in the room.

"As I went to come back in, I slipped and slid off the roof, landing on my back in an L position.

Glasgow Times:

"I was in shock. I lay there and didn't feel anything, until I tried to get up and couldn't move.

"Eventually I army crawled around my stomach, and by that time my boyfriend was next to me. He thought I was joking around and kept telling me to get up. He only realised how serious it was when I told him he needed to call an ambulance, because I couldn't move."

Adrienne, originally from Irvine, was rushed on a spinal board in an ambulance to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, and then to Glasgow's Southern General Hospital

She said: "I woke up on Boxing Day and my family and I thought I was paralysed from the waist down. I couldn't move my legs. It was terrifying and if I'm honest, I thought life as I knew it was over.

"I lay on my back for five days, and only then did some movement come back in my feet and toes.

"Doctors gave me two options:I could lie on my back for three months, or go straight for an operation to fix the bones in my spine I crushed when I fell.

"For me, there was only one option. I went into theatre and brought the bells in at New Year with morphine and a nurse".

Adrienne's surgery was a mammoth nine-hour long procedure, where she had metal plates inserted into her spine around the injury.

She then spent three months in a brace and specialised physiotherapy.

Glasgow Times:

Adrienne said: "I had to relearn how to do everything again.

"The physiotherapy was amazing, because it worked on things you wouldn't normally think of even doing.

"I spent months driving fake cars, walking up stairs - even squatting as if I was going to the toilet."

Adrienne continued: "You just don't think you will ever need to learn how to do these things because they are so second nature, but for me, I had to start at the beginning. It was frustrating but incredible at the same time."

Always a sporty person at heart, Adrienne had dreams of being a dancer before her fall.

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Even in her brace, she was determined that nothing would stop her.

Adrienne said: "I kept it a secret from my parents at the time, but arranged with my uncle that I would still go to my audition for a dance course that April.

"I know it was stupid and potentially dangerous, particularly because the audition was 4 hours long, but I did it. Taking my brace off, I thought my body would fall apart.

"I did the audition and put my brace back on again and was so lucky, because I got the place."

Glasgow Times:

Although no longer a dancer, Adrienne has continued to complete three degrees in sports, health and nutrition, and teaches children, vulnerable people and the elderly a range of sports with South Ayrshire Council.

Her next adventure, after lockdown is lifted, is to teach sports on cruise ships. For now, she is coaching children in lockdown at schools and online.

Adrienne said: "I finished my dance degree but knew with my injury my career as a dancer wouldn't go much further.

"I've just finished my third degree in International Sports Management at Glasgow Caledonian University and am a trained Personal Trainer.

"I've been able to work teaching and coaching volleyball, swimming, zumba, and arranged charity marathons to raise money for Cancer Research."

After all she went through, Adrienne wants to se Spinal Injury Day to raise awareness on how important keeping fit can be for both mind and body.

Adrienne said: "When my accident happened, I was a naive 18 year old.

Glasgow Times:

"I feel very lucky to be able to be here the way I am now, because if I'd fallen 3cm further I'd have been paralysed.

"With sports I'm now able to move across the world, and teach everyone the importance of taking care of your body and staying fit and healthy.

"In 2013 I nearly died. Now I'm making the most of life and what it brings me."

Spinal Cord Injury Day is ran by Aspire, Back Up and the Spinal Injuries Association.

A spokesperson for the Spinal Injuries Association said: "On Friday 15 May we will be marking Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day (SCIAD).

"We run this annual event together with our charity partners Back Up and Aspire.

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"The day is all about raising awareness and understanding of the impact and effect of spinal cord injury told through personal stories of those affected.

"This year’s theme is spinal cord injury at any age.

"We know that spinal cord injury is devastating at any age and life stage.

"In a split second, you can lose your independence, your freedom and perhaps your reason for staying alive.

"Rebuilding confidence is so important after sustaining a spinal cord injury – it can affect every part of your life."