Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has been released from hospital and will begin a “significant” period of rehabilitation after a “long, painful week”.
“I landed flat on my back and hit the steps hard directly below the shoulder blades fracturing at least five ribs and sustaining an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra,” the premier said in a statement today.
“I narrowly avoided permanent damage to my spinal cord.
“These are serious injuries that require me to wear a brace throughout each day except when sleeping.
“My doctors also want me to get rest and undertake a comprehensive program of physiotherapy.
“That’s why I will take a leave of absence from my duties for at least six weeks.”
Mr Andrews had been getting ready for work at a holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula last week when he slipped.
This afternoon he thanked ambulance workers and hospital staff for their care.
“I want to make special mention of the Ambulance Victoria paramedics, the entire team of staff at Peninsula Private and Alfred Health from trauma specialists to spinal surgeons, cooks and cleaners and everyone in between,” he said.
“I’m grateful to be a Victorian patient and proud of our Victorian health system.”
Mr Andrews said he needed time to recover properly after a stern warning from the medical team.
“It’s important that I take this rest and recovery seriously,” he said.
“As one trauma specialist said to Cath and I last week, ‘you very narrowly avoided a life-changing injury, you should buy a Tattslotto ticket, you are very lucky to be here in one piece’.
“I’m not sure about the Tattslotto ticket but I’m certain that with rest, continued high quality care and the support of family, friends, colleagues and the Victorian community, I’ll be back doing the job I love as soon as possible.”
The Alfred’s director of trauma services Professor Mark Fitzgerald said the team of specialists caring for Mr Andrews were “pleased” with his progress, however the premier had a long road to recovery ahead.
“Mr Andrews has responded well without surgery so far, and the work to improve his strength and mobility must now begin,” he said.
“As the rehabilitation journey gets underway, we will watch closely for any signs of worsening spinal stability or alignment, as well as the development of other complications.”
Professor Fitzgerald said a spinal injury of this nature would not necessarily require surgery.
“When upright, a brace is worn to stabilise the spine, maintain alignment, and help to control pain. Physiotherapy treatment is key at this time,” he said.
“Any deterioration may lead to a need for surgery down the track, however we are gradually progressing in the right direction at this time.”
Mr Andrews last week said it was “good to get out of ICU”, sharing a photo of himself in a ward.
“Thanks for all your messages and well wishes. It really means a lot,” he added.