Penn State cheerleader to be released from rehab hospital; plans return to school

The Penn State cheerleader who fell five stories out of a window in October is being released from a Kentucky rehabilitation center today.

Paige Raque, 19, of Louisville, Ky., appeared at a press conference at Frazier Rehab Institute in her hometown.

Raque suffered a severe brain injury and shattered her pelvis when she fell 39 feet from a Calder Commons apartment in downtown State College. She remained in the intensive care unit at Altoona Hospital until just before Thanksgiving. It was then that she was able to return to her Kentucky home and begin rehab there.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the accident, Raque expressed gratitude for those who sent their prayers and thoughts.

“I needed every single person who rallied behind me and they pushed me through it and they’re the reason I’m here and I’m OK,” Raque told reporters while sitting in a wheelchair at her televised press conference.

Raque remained in a coma while in the Altoona ICU. For more than three weeks, she was unable to speak. Her fellow students held prayer vigils and sold T-shirts and wristbands to help support her recovery.

She completed 16 days of treatment in the Kentucky rehab center.

“She has had a better than expected recovery, from the standpoint of the speed of recovery,” Frazier Medical Director Darryl Kaelin told reporters at the press conference. “Typically we see the physical recovery happening at about a three-month process. She’s going to beat that by about a month.”

Raque told reporters the last thing she remembered was hanging out with friends and family at a barbecue earlier in the day. Her parents were in State College when the accident happened.

The circumstances surrounding the night of Raque’s fall remain hushed, as police continue to investigate. State College police said they were investigating whether alcohol played a role in fall. Police have said they believed the fall to be accidental.

In an application for the search warrant filed in the Centre County Courthouse, police said the initial investigation revealed evidence that there was a party with alcoholic beverages in the room Raque fell from.

“Several residents of the apartment indicated that they were having a party in the apartment in which alcohol was being served,” police wrote in the warrant. “Several of the people at the party were identified as being less than 21.”

While the investigation continues, Raque said she plans on returning to Penn State to continue her studies bio-behavior health as soon as she is able, possibly by next fall.

“I had always planned on going into the medical field, and this whole thing has opened my eyes,” she said.

Follow Christopher Passante on Twitter @ChrisPassante.