Dance Wheelchair dancing helped Tuuli Harju to a new life after her injury

Wind Harju was seriously injured when his head hit the bottom during a swimming trip. However, with hard work, she has made her way to the top of the world of wheelchair dance. Next year, the goal is an EM medal.

From Kouvola Wind Harjun life changed in the blink of an eye when he was twenty years old. Harju was at a friend’s cottage at the time, spending a summer day.

“I jumped from the pier into the water at too steep an angle, causing my head to hit the bottom. However, I did not lose consciousness, but I got to surface, ”says Harju in an interview with STT.

Harju’s actual memories of the accident run out at that moment. The next decent memory is from Tampere University Hospital, where he was operated on. At the same time, it turned out that the seventh vertebra of the cervical spine was fractured. Harju was paralyzed with four limbs.

He gained strength from the fact that there was still activity in both hands.

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“Even though my fingers didn’t work properly, my hands still moved, and I was able to scratch my nose. At no point did I despair. This was certainly helped by the fact that I have always been very calm about adversity, ”says Harju, 37.

The shower moments gave extra hope, as there was a feeling of superficiality in the legs.

“It gave hope for recovery. However, the function of the legs has not been restored since then.

Ridge spent several weeks in the hospital, after which he was transferred to Validia in Helsinki for six months for rehabilitation. His own challenge was just to get up.

“The injury caused a change in blood pressure, which made me easily lose consciousness. However, my body gradually started to get used to this, and I got into a wheelchair quite quickly. ”

Harju considers Validia’s conditions to be excellent. Additional rehabilitation was provided by other rehabilitators.

“Peer support was very important. It was empowering to see how there was an improvement in the well-being of different people. ”

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After returning home, Harju had to learn a new everyday life.

“I was very afraid of falling, for example, so I wouldn’t get up. Because of this, I had the phone available all the time. However, things started to go smoothly, and everyday life took its toll. ”

One or two a year after his injury, in 2011, Harju started wheelchair dancing at the club level. The following year, she became acquainted with the Finnish Championship level dancer To Timo Pyykkö, which deepened the training even further.

Over time, Pyykkönen’s role grew from a coach to a dance couple. Today, they are also an open couple. The couple has also enjoyed strong success, as the merits include several Finnish championships, the European Championship bronze medal and the sixth place in the World Championships in standard dance in the Combi 1 series. The pair also rose to the top of the world list in 2018 and 2019.

“For myself, the most shocking moment has been the European Championship bronze. Of course, the top places on the world list are also great merits, but the result will be built on them in the long run. ”

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Next the goal is next autumn’s european championships, as the world championships scheduled for this fall in south korea were canceled due to the corona situation.

“The goal is definitely a medal. There is daily work towards it. ”

Wheelchair dancing has also helped a lot in maintaining physical fitness.

“Training is daily. I use a corset to help me dance because my abdominal muscles don’t work. On the positive side, however, the condition of the back and rib muscles has improved, ”says Harju, who works in office work in the hardware store in civilian life.

“I encourage others to embark on new things as well. It’s worth giving yourself the opportunity to do what you enjoy. ”

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