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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Woman broke back in freak gym accident

A young trauma nurse has told of her agony after suffering a broken back in a freak gym accident.

Broken back woman photo
Charlotte O’Donnell with Lee Butterworth, owner of Xtreme Fitness

Charlotte O’Donnell had been about to do a tyre flip – an exercise that involves turning over a huge tyre on the ground – when she heard a sickening ‘pop”.

The 26-year-old fitness enthusiast from Workington was in an outdoor exercise class at Xtreme Fitness in Lillyhall when she experienced sudden excruciating pain in her lower back. The injury also left her paralysed in one leg.

Charlotte, of Northumberland Street, said: “We were on the first event, which was flipping tyres, and as I went down to pick it up I heard and felt this pop.

“I hadn’t even lifted the tyre or even touched it.

“Being a trauma nurse I knew that something was wrong. I was in agony: I have never known pain like it.”

Gym owner Lee Butterwoth, 35, who saw what happened, added: “She bent down to do the exercise and the next thing she was screaming in pain.

“You could tell it was excruciating and she was squeezing my arm.”

The incident happened on November 24 but Charlotte had been too unwell to speak to the News & Star until now.

She was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital and spent a month there.

It was two weeks before she was able to move her leg which had been numb since the accident.

“I thought I wasn’t going to get movement back and my Mum and Dad were in tears” she said.

Charlotte is wearing a body brace and takes strong painkillers every day.

Because of her injury everyday things like getting dressed and having a bath have been impossible without help from her family. “I have had to depend massively on them” she said.

Test are still being carried out to establish the underlying cause of the injury.

But Charlotte believes she may know why it happened.

She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory bowel condition – which makes it difficult for her to absorb the calcium and vitamins needed to strengthen bones.

She said: “I want to make people aware of how debilitating Crohn’s can be if you don’t look after yourself and if you don’t stick to your diet.”

Charlotte also admitted she had been “hammering the gym” lately which she said may have weakened her back.

She said that she does not hold Lee or his fitness team in any way responsible. “It was a freak accident from my condition,” she said.

But she did advise anyone suffering from Crohn’s to seek advice before joining a gym.

Charlotte is now taking vitamins and minerals to make sure her body is getting the nutrients it needs. She has been told to rest and will not start physiotherapy until doctors have finished their tests.

It is not clear yet whether she will need an operation.

Lee said that a personal trainer from Xtreme Fitness would work with her physiotherapist to aid her recovery whenever she is ready.

Charlotte thanked her sister Katie and mother Julie, her father Anton and step father David for all their help. She also thanked brother Anton, her uncle Jim and her sister-in-law Victoria and gym owner Lee.

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