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When Lisa walked away from a horrific car accident 20 years ago, it seemed nothing short of miraculous.

No doubt driven by sheer adrenaline and shock; it wasn’t until days later that the full extent of her injuries became clear.

Told at 18 she might never walk again, Lisa puts her recovery down to the hard work, commitment, and patience of her physiotherapist – and today is the inspiration behind her decision to follow in her footsteps.

“The only way I can describe what the physiotherapist did for me, back then, is like magic,” said Lisa, who at 39, is finally pursuing her ambition to become a physiotherapist herself. 

“After spending eight weeks in a hospital bed, somehow she changed my mindset from being terrified to even put my feet on the floor, to eventually saying, let’s do this.”

Lisa had suffered fractures to her pelvis, ribs and collarbone.  Looking back, she said: “I couldn’t face the thought of putting my feet on a flat surface, let alone put any weight on them.”  She remembers it took at least three visits before she was even prepared to try.

“The physiotherapist was so patient with me and wouldn’t let me give up,” said Lisa, qualities she now hopes to bring to her own career.

Having spent 16 years working in a bank, working her way up the ranks to become a bank manager, embarking on an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health at Stockton Riverside College has given the Stockton mum-of-two the skills she needed to take a change in direction.

She admits there were some nerves about returning to the classroom, but she said: “You just have to be brave.  I realised a lot of people are nervous about coming back to college, especially as a mature student.  I thought I was going to be the oldest there, but I wasn’t.”

While becoming a physiotherapist was always the dream, Lisa explained a break in her career following the outbreak of Covid, gave her the chance to take the plunge.  In fact, she said: “In January 2020 we went to Sydney with my husband’s job.  We were supposed to be there for six months to a year, but Covid struck and that fell through.  We arrived back in the UK the day before lockdown started.”

After having their second child, time away from the nine to five gave Lisa the courage to try something new.

Of going back to college, she said: “As a mature student you have a totally different view, you have more respect for what you are doing, the course and the tutors. You have a different outlook on life.”

With her heart set on getting a place to study physiotherapy at university – a highly competitive course – Lisa knew she had to make the grades, all balanced around the demands of family life and sadly for Lisa, the loss of her dad midway through the course.  

She said: “It was a lot of work, not just at college, but every day.  You really have to put the hours in.”

Now in her first year on a physiotherapy degree at Teesside University, Lisa said: “This is exactly what I want to do, I love it.  It is brilliant, it is an eye opener, but it is also really hard.”

Ultimately hoping to work for the NHS in trauma, she said: “I am so thankful to the physiotherapist that helped me.  Following my experience, I would now like to be able to pass that on to someone else.”

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