A fitness Marcelle Mancuso, 23-year-old from Brazil was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after a gym accident.
Mancuso was doing an inverted sit-up at her gym in Rio when the strap holding her legs onto the elevated bench came loose and she slipped and fell head-first onto the floor.
An inverted sit-up involves performing an abdominal crunch on a gym bench which is raised on one end.
Mancuso said to The Independent:
“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 lost all the movements from the neck down when I hit my head on the floor, I could move my eyes. I had to keep calm and began to pray”
The law graduate broke the fifth vertebrae in her neck, knocked another one out of place and squashed a third, compressing her spinal cord. Doctors had to graft bone to her smashed vertebrae and fit a metal plate and screws in her spine.
Her physicians warned she may be a quadriplegic.
“The doctors did not know if I would walk again or if I would stay on a bed forever,” Marcelle recounted to SWNS. “I was afraid, but my faith always spoke louder and I thanked God for being alive.”
It took three months after surgery for Marcelle to take her first steps on her own.
“After six months I managed to walk and my legs did not sway any more,” she said.
Marcelle Mancuso in recovery after her accident at the gym
She’s now back at the gym and said she’s more active than ever.
“It sometimes feels like it was a nightmare I have woken up from,” she said.
Mancuso’s injury is very unique, Christian Seguin, a physiotherapist at Active Sports Physiotherapy Clinic in Cornwall, Ont., says that some injuries, like those to the lower back and shoulders, are common in gym settings.
“When the biomechanics aren’t done well and you aren’t using your legs to lift, but rather bending forward, it becomes precarious and puts the lower back at risk,” he says. “While anything that requires repetitively lifting weights over your head in a standing or sitting position will create overuse of the rotator cuff [or shoulder joint].”
Christian advises people to work out with the guidance of a kinesiologist or a certified trainer.
He says Mancuso’s injury could have been avoided in any number of ways, including by working on an incline bench that secures your feet and is very close to the ground.
Overall, however, he doesn’t see this as an example of the hidden dangers of the gym.
“If you look at a conventional gym, it’s fairly safe, They’re designed to minimize risk. Injuries usually happen when a person doesn’t use the equipment the proper way.”