By Jennifer Mayerle

ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — Six months after a Rochester woman survived a 100-foot tumble down an Arizona canyon, she will head back to the hospital tomorrow. This time, Amber Kohnhorst is going back to work.

The Mayo Clinic nurse fell while hiking in May. She spent nearly 28 hours in a canyon before crews found her and rescued her with a helicopter. She is grateful to everyone who has been part of her recovery.

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“A lot of it at this point feels like a distant dream,” Kohnhorst said.

Amber does physical therapy exercises daily.

“It’s funny what an $8 hula hoop can do,” Kohnhorst said.

The 25-year-old nurse suffered a concussion, broke her back and nose and had rods put in her tailbone.
She was on bed rest for 10 weeks after a fall that left her desperate and paralyzed with fear.

“It really was traumatic. I laid there for over a day anticipating my death, and that’s what I thought it would come to,” Kohnhorst said.

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She survived, and pushed her body to heal. Kohnhorst went from being in a wheelchair to using a walker and then sticks before walking on her own. Her brace came off three months ago.

“You’ve got to keep moving forward, you only get one life. You have to accept what happens and try your best to move on,” Kohnhorst said.

Last month doctors cleared her to travel to Europe on a trip she planned before the accident.
Recently she added the elliptical to her therapy regiment.

“It just made me feel like myself again and it was so nice to see what I could do,” Kohnhorst said.

And now she’s ready to go back to work to a hospital where she was once a patient.

“I’m nervous but excited like everything else. Being the patient you have a completely different outlook on it so I hope I can use my experiences to better myself as a nurse,” Kohnhorst said.

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Kohnhorst will ease back in to work with a role doing paperwork. Currently she can lift up to 20 pounds. She will work her way toward returning to patient care in the cardiac surgery ICU.

Jennifer Mayerle