‘I was determined to walk again’: Injured Grammar student

TOOWOOMBA Grammar rugby player Ollie Bierhoff was told he may never walk again.

He had a dislocated spine and fractured disc after a training accident and couldn't move his legs when he woke from surgery.

But three weeks later the 18-year-old is walking and passing a football after a miraculous recovery.

Ollie Bierhoff, 18, with his parents Colleen and Bernie Bierhoff. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Ollie Bierhoff, 18, with his parents Colleen and Bernie Bierhoff. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

The gutsy teen is one of four Queensland boys seriously injured playing rugby in the past month.

"They said there was a low chance of recovery, "Ollie said.

"It was pretty heartbreaking but you've just got to block that out. I was just determined to walk again."

By day six, Ollie took his first steps.

Toowoomba Grammar School student Ollie Bierhoff is recovering from a spinal injury suffered during a rugby union training drill. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Toowoomba Grammar School student Ollie Bierhoff is recovering from a spinal injury suffered during a rugby union training drill. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

Working with spinal specialists and occupational therapists at Princess Alexandra Hospital, he's gone from squeezing playdough to throwing a footy, doing exercises for up to an hour a day.

The teen said he could remember everything about the accident, which happened in a pick and drive drill at training.

"I took it in and kind of got hit from behind and I was off balance and my head just went straight to ground first," Ollie said. "(There was a) massive crack in my neck and then I just lost all feeling from my neck to my toes."

Ollie Bierhoff after his first operation. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner
Ollie Bierhoff after his first operation. Picture: AAP Image/Steve Pohlner

His parents Colleen and Bernie drove eight hours from their Rowena home in NSW and were called by the head surgeon on the way.

"He said I've got to be brutally honest there is a low chance of recovery," Bernie said.

"If you are granted one miracle in your life - if this is it, I'll take it every day of the week.

"In the first surgery, they had to remove the disc that was pushing against the spinal cord and they took a piece of bone out of Ollie's pelvis to bridge that gap and then they put a steel plate in there and screws to hold it all together.

"The second surgery, they put a rod in the back of Ollie's neck to secure c4 to c7. It's a 6cm rod."

Ollie Bierhoff playing rugby before the injury.
Ollie Bierhoff playing rugby before the injury.

Ollie said rehabilitation could take up to six months but he hoped to do it in two so he could finish Year 12.

"Footy is a bit out of the question now," Ollie said of whether he would play again.
"Don't want to risk something like this happening again. Just walking and running again - that would be just amazing."

His advice to other boys recovering from serious rugby injuries was to not give up.

The family thanked hospital staff and school for their support.

James Kleidon suffered a dislocated spine the day after Oliver, in a trial game against Brisbane Grammar on July 14.
He is said to be back at school.



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