Bel was just eight years old when she fell from a climbing frame and sustained a spinal cord injury that left her paralysed from the top of her shoulders down.
It was the sort of tumble that children pick themselves up from every single day. But for Bel, it had devastating consequences. She told us: “I was playing in a neighbour’s garden; I lost hold of the climbing frame and fell. I couldn’t breathe and had to be given mouth-to-mouth until the ambulance arrived. I was rushed to hospital where the doctors found I had broken my neck.”
Bel spent ten months in intensive care and, eight years later, she remains paralysed with a C3 injury. That split second in June 2010 will always stand out to Bel and her family because of the life-changing effects of her spinal cord injury.
Bel’s injury has also affected her ability to control her diaphragm, so whilst she has learnt to breathe via her tracheotomy, using her shoulder muscles to raise and lower her diaphragm when in her wheelchair, she is dependent on a ventilator at night to make sure she keeps breathing.