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Sam Harvey

A horse riding accident changed Sam's life - not just because of the ongoing impact of the head injury she received, but also because it set her on a new career direction.

Sam was just 16 when she was injured after the horse she was riding fell awkwardly, taking her with it.

"I spent a month in hospital, which I don't remember, and then I spent about two-and-a-half or three months in rehab. Even once I was home I did physio for another year or so."

During her long recovery her time in the ISIS rehab centre had quite an impact on her. "Working with the physios there was actually quite fun and I thought it would be good to be able to do that myself."

She is in what is effectively her fourth year of a physiotherapy degree and is keen to get into neuro rehab as an area of specialisation.

Sam says DI&S played a particularly crucial role in her first year of health sciences, arranging a tutor and course notes when needed.

When it came to exam time she was provided with a separate room and an extra 10 minutes per hour so she could rest to beat the fatigue.

"I still get fatigued. And when I get fatigued a whole lot of other cognitive issues start coming into it, like my concentration disappears and my processing is slower and I can't come up with the words I should be able to," she says.

"The School of Physiotherapy has been helpful and accommodating. I don't really want special treatment as such just because I won't get that in the real world, so I am just trying to ease myself into it."

Sam is now on placement in Christchurch where she has been able to gain experience at Community Stroke Rehabilitation, as well as working in the surgical ward at Christchurch Public Hospital. She has also spent time at the Burwood Spinal Unit where she was able to work with two patients who had issues similar to hers so she was able to draw on her own experiences. She is now focusing on private practice and research.

"What has really got me through is just keeping that balance. Working really hard but also giving myself breaks and doing things that aren't study and work. If you don't do that then you just burn out."