Woman Literally Picked Up Own Head After Horse Fall

Thea Maxfield, who broke her neck after being thrown from her horse, is back in the saddle thanks to pioneering technology used in Formula One motor racing.

26-year-old Thea Maxfield from Bicester, Oxfordshire with her new horse Hammie - just a year after another horse, Fiorella, threw her off and left her with a broken neck. Photo: Adam Gasson/SWNS.com

A British woman had to pick her own head up off the ground after badly breaking her neck in a horrific fall from a horse, according to reports.

The Daily Express newspaper reports that Thea Maxfield suffered a horrific “hangman’s fracture” – a clean break of her upper cervical vertebra – after she was bucked six metres into the air and landed on her head in the accident.

Thea Maxfield, who runs a stud farm in Oxfordshire, England, tried to get out of the animal’s way as it galloped around after the fall, but when she tried to pick herself up, the horrified 26-year-old found her head stayed where it was.

Realising she had to move to avoid being stomped on, Ms Maxfield cupped her hands around her own head and lifted it into place to avoid damaging her spinal cord.

“As soon as I came off the horse I knew something was wrong. I went to get up but my head stayed on the floor,” She explained. “I couldn’t move my neck or my head and I had to literally pick my head up and carry it in my hands.”

She continued: “My horse was galloping around and I just had to get out of the way. When we arrived at the hospital I was told that this type of fracture can kill people.”

After managing to stagger to safety, watched by her frightened mother Diane, she was whisked to hospital by ambulance.

At first doctors warned that she could be permanently paralysed and spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. But they fixed a permanent brace to her neck for three months to help fuse the bones back together.

And Thea Maxfield – after initial treatment to repair her vertebrae – was back riding again in seven months thanks to technology from the world of Grand Prix racing.

Thea became the first person in the world to undergo treatment for a broken neck using a specially-adapted head brace connected to a computer by tiny sensors.

Tiny sensors, which normally measure the force and stresses of an F1 car at high speed, were used to assess the strength and weakness of Thea’s neck.

This information was fed into a super-computer and her physiotherapists used it to tailor an exercise routine to ensure her neck healed at the perfect rate.

“I didn’t have that much hope of a recovery but I’ve been incredibly lucky to have been able to use this new technology which has helped me tremendously,” she said.

This information allowed pioneering physiotherapist Don Gatherer to tailor an exercise routine to ensure her neck healed at the perfect rate. The TGP Analysis device normally monitors steering wheel, suspension and air-flow factors on Formula One cars.

Don was then able to tailor the exercises exactly needed to repair Thea’s neck without causing further injuries. Doctor’s said that Thea might need a few years before she recovered, but she was riding horses again after just seven months.

Thea said: “I couldn’t believe it when my horse went berserk. She bucked twice vertically in the air and I was thrown into the air. It’s ironic that I had been rehabilitating the horse at the time and she was the one that injured me.”

Don, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, believes the TGP Analysis device could also be used to test if benefits claimants are ‘faking’ injury.

“We can precisely measure the muscle strength, enabling us to create a safe training programme whilst ensuring forces exerting on the muscle during training are within guidelines,” Don Gatherer explaned.

‘Previously, Thea lacked strength but combined with using our patented harness that prevents excess loads from being applied, she has improved core strength to improve posture and stability.

“The accuracy of this system couple with the analysis software enables physios to use it as a method of understanding what muscle force is actually possible.”

“This enables the physio to ensure the right treatment is administered or, in the case of benefit claimants, data will be available to assess suitability. The data from the machines could also be used to test if benefits claimants have genuine problems.”

Thea is particularly grateful to Don Gatherer for her high-tech treatment: “My recovery has been speeded up beyond belief. I feel incredibly lucky.” She even plans to be back competing next year. [via SWNS (UK)]

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