Brave mum warned she’d be paralysed – but now she runs and helps GB Paralympians

Updated: September 6, 2012
Wanda Summers

A BRAVE mum of two whose spine was shattered in a horrific paragliding accident has helped to inspire Britain’s Paralympics team to glory.

Fitness instructor Wanda Summers, 37,  – who assisted Paralympians acclimatise to their gym facilities in the Olympic Village – was paralysed from the waist down when her paraglider plummeted to the ground.

Doctors who studied X-rays feared she might never walk again without dangerous surgery, but instead she opted to endure three months of agonizing pain in the faint hope of recovering without going under the knife.

Against all the odds, she made a full recovery and she is now one of several ‘Inspiration Trainers’ working with Olympic partners Technogym

Wanda, (pictured above) who lives in Helston, Cornwall, said: “When I was airlifted to hospital, the guy with the X-ray wouldn’t tell me anything, but his face said it all.

“They ferried me by ambulance to another hospital and a surgeon came in and he said ‘You are paralysed from the waist down’.”

X rays showed that Wanda had shattered her L4 vertebra in her spine and she was told her best chance of walking was surgery, but there was a major catch.

The operation would have carried a 70% chance of leaving her with bowel and bladder paralysis.

Wanda was convinced she still had some feeling in one of her lower limbs, which meant she had a small chance of recovering without the surgery: provided she lay still on her back for three months.

She explained: “I said that if you touched my left foot I could feel something. They said it might be just shock, but I was determined to do it my way.

“I used to have muscular legs from running, but within one week they looked like sticks. I couldn’t even go to the loo, I had to do it all lying flat.

“If they wanted to change the bed they did it by ‘log-rolling’ me, where they turn you to the side and they lift the sheets up.

“When they did that it felt like a 10-tonne building was falling on my body, followed by being electrocuted. I can’t describe the pain – it was the most agonizing time of my life.”

Wanda was warned that her back was so badly smashed there as a danger it would crumble when she eventually sat up after 12 weeks. But she was determined to give it go, and checked out of hospital in order to continue her recuperation at the home of her ex-partner Steve, who helped look after her.

Incredibly she made a full recovery – although the first thing that happened when she sat up was that she lost consciousness.

Wanda, who has two sons, Anoki, 15, and Dalano, 17, explained: “I passed out because my head had been lying flat for 12 weeks. When I came round again I took it slowly.”

Miraculously, Wanda is now fully recovered and hoping her story will inspire others who suffer severe back injuries. Her accident happened in December 2008 and by 2010 she was well enough to do the Gobi March desert race in Africa.

As well as having worked for Technogym during the Paralympics, she runs her own fitness business called Live Without Limits.


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