History professor makes full recovery from bike accident, brain surgery

Rachel Musselmann

History professor Ruth Alexander is fully recovered after her bike accident. She will return to the University to teach classes on gender and sexuality, social history and environment. (Photo credits: Colorado State University)
History professor Ruth Alexander is fully recovered after her bike accident. She will return to the University to teach classes on gender and sexuality, social history and environment. (Photo courtesy: Colorado State University)

Colorado State University professor Ruth Alexander suffered a grand mal seizure April 11 during the Boulder Roubaix road race, causing her to crash her bike, suffer a concussion and fracture her spine in five places. She was rushed to the hospital.

Alexander, a history professor and a masters-level road-racer, was diagnosed with a golfball-sized meningioma tumor, which ultimately caused the seizure. The tumor was determined to be benign, and Alexander chose to remove it with surgery.

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“(The tumor) had likely been growing for 10 to 15 years undetected,” Alexander said. “Finally the brain just protested with a seizure.”

Alexander was sent home from the hospital in a cervical brace for her spine, extending from her chin to her lower back.

“I was in the brace 24 hours a day for eight days, but my spine has healed beautifully,” Alexander said. “I’m walking five miles a day, and I plan to return to bike racing in 2016.”

The brain surgery, performed in a hospital in Longmont June 16, was an “absolute success,” Alexander said. She was bedridden for six days afterwards.

Nearly three months later, Alexander said she is perfectly recovered from the incident.

“I’m doing extremely well … and expect to be in fine shape for the upcoming fast-paced academic year,” Alexander wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Karen Spencer, Alexander’s neighbor and friend, said she was involved with Alexander’s recovery process and is pleased with the results.

“Ruth really took charge of her own care and recovery in a very positive way, ” Spencer said.”We were worried … but if anyone was going to get hurt like this and recover, it was going to be her.”

At CSU, professors Tracy Brady and Jared Orsi were responsible for instructing Alexander’s classes in her absence.

“It was challenging, but fun working with her great students,” Orsi said. “It was clear they loved the subject and their instructor.”

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Orsi said the department will be happy to have Alexander back.

“(Alexander) is widely regarded as a sharp mind and is a really upbeat member of the department,” Orsi said. “We missed her.”

Collegian Senior Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rmusselmann