Mother-of-two is left paralysed after her back folded in two and SNAPPED while weightlifting at gym

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A firefighter and mum-of-two has been left paralysed from the waist down after she snapped her back in two, weightlifting at the gym.

Victoria Griffiths, 31, from Warrington, Cheshire, was lifting more than 20 stone, double her body weight, when she wobbled and fell forwards instead of backwards, causing her body to jackknife.

Rushed by ambulance to Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, where she had four-hour emergency surgery on her back, she now needs a wheelchair.

Doctors are unsure if she will be able to walk again after she suffered a break in two of the bones in her back and a dislocation that damaged her spinal cord.

Vicki explained: “I know that the worst case is that I might be in a wheelchair and I’m not going to walk, but I have to come to terms to it as best I can.

“These things happen and I’m the sort of person who thinks that you just have to get on with it and find another path to get where you need to be.

“I’m not sure what will happen with work as my job is very physical but they have been so supportive and have told me to focus on my recovery.”

The shocking incident took place on March 17 this year at Birchwood Leisure centre.

Super-fit Vicki went there for her daily spin class but, after her warm-up, she decided to work out in the main gym instead.

She explained: “I got there a bit early and started doing a leg routine. As it got to about 9.25am, when the class was about to begin, I decided I was into the routine and I would just stick with it.”

Vicki, whose partner Dave Parr, 35, is an investment banker, joined a gym after the birth of her youngest son Noah, now four.

As her fitness improved, she saw a post on Facebook about the fire service and decided to join up.

She officially became a firefighter in January last year at Birchwood Fire station and as one of just 32 female firefighters in Cheshire, she has been working to encourage more women to join up.

Her intense job meant she needed to stay fit and strong, so she went to the gym every day.

On this occasion, though, one of her regular routines went drastically wrong.

Vicki, also a mum to Luke, 10, said: “I was doing step-ups on an aerobic step and I had a bar on the back of my neck, carrying 130kg, which is about 20 stone.

“I stepped up with my right leg and left leg and got straight back down, but I wobbled and because of the weight of the bar, I fell forwards rather than backwards.

“It basically folded me in half. It’s like leaning down and touching your toes and someone coming and shoving you that extra little bit further.”

The bar rolled down Vicki’s neck and over her head and she was flung backwards onto the floor, screaming in pain.

She added: “The next thing I remember is another gym goer next to me telling me to stay still. I kept trying to get up and they were telling me to stay where I was.

“It felt like I’d been laid on cold concrete for so long my body was numb. I didn’t understand what I had done.”

Staff called the paramedics and they arrived within 15 minutes and when they started to treat her, they realised how serious Vicki’s injuries were

“The paramedics came and said they needed to move my legs and when they did, I thought my feet were still on the floor, but they had moved me. I knew something was very wrong,” Vicki said.

“The only thing I could think of was that I wouldn’t be able to go to a training weekend at fire college. I was really looking forward to it. It sounds ridiculous right now but I didn’t even think I was never going to walk again.”

Rushed to Aintree hospital, she was given strong painkillers, including ketamine, and taken straight for CT and MRI scans, to assess the damage to her back.

“The surgeon told my family and that it was really bad. They said they needed to get me into surgery straight away,” she explained.

During a four-hour operation, doctors placed titanium rods in her back, but a dislocated bone had damaged her spinal cord.

Vicki remained in intensive care for 11 days, before being moved to a spinal ward.

Last week, she was moved to Southport spinal injuries rehabilitation unit to continue her recovery.

Her injuries mean she is unable to move from her belly button down and doctors are still assessing her and she is undergoing rehab but they believe it is unlikely she will be able to walk again.

She said: “Things could change. Your body is still in shock for the first eight weeks. I will be tested again after the eight weeks and there is a slim chance that with intense physio and a lot of work, I may be able to walk.

Vicki and her partner, Dave, are in the process of buying their first home together and friends and family have set up a JustGiving page, to raise money to make adjustments for Vicki in their new home.

She explained: “I am renting at the minute and we are going to make minor adjustments there. But we need to be able to make more long term adjustments at the new house, to make it more wheelchair-friendly, to help me get around.”

And she has set herself the target of May 28 to return to her rented house.

“I think it will take some work, but I am very determined. They had said the end of June but I think I can do it by the end of May.

“Luke has been staying with his dad who is helping him understand and my family have been great with helping to look after Noah.

“I have had so much support from everyone, especially my family and Dave, so I know I can get there.”

A spokesperson from LiveWire, who operate the gym at Birchwood, said: “We wish Victoria all the best in her recovery.”

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