Spinal cord injury
Hailey Morris, a 17-year-old high school student from Oklahoma, loves showing cattle and riding horses. On her way home from a land judging contest, she endured a life-changing accident. Hailey’s truck rolled over near a paper mill, and she suffered catastrophic injuries, leaving her unable to walk.
Witnessing the accident, an employee from the paper mill rushed to her aid until emergency services arrived. She was flown to Medical City Plano, where immediate surgeries were performed to repair the damage to her spine. However, the extent of her injuries required intensive rehabilitation to regain her independence.
After exploring various options presented by the case manager at Medical City Plano, Hailey's mother decided on Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Dallas. Known for its innovative care and research for individuals with spinal cord injuries, BSWIR – Dallas provided Hailey with a comprehensive therapy and care plan.
Upon admission, Hailey required a significant amount of assistance for bathing, dressing her lower body, putting on her socks/shoes, getting in and out of bed and transferring to the shower or toilet chair. She was not able to stand or walk due to her leg weakness.
Her goals were to, “take care of personal needs and complete my self-care without anybody’s help.” The dedicated team at BSWIR – Dallas committed to helping Hailey achieve her rehabilitation goals, which included the ability to transfer herself between different surfaces, handle personal needs independently and reduce her morning pain while increasing sitting endurance.
Under the guidance of her physical therapist, Hailey performed stretches and exercises to improve her seated balance and facilitate transfers between her wheelchair and various surfaces. In the seating clinic, she focused on seating options, postural alignment, skin care and hygiene routines. In occupational therapy, she focused on strengthening her body and learning adaptive self-care strategies, such as dressing.
“Her hamstrings were really tight and her back was tight, so they started working on stretching and that helped a lot,” said Hailey’s mother. “Her occupational therapist showed us how to help her stretch during dressing, so we have gotten into a routine of stretching every morning.”
Hailey found comfort and joy in the company of Orbit, the therapy dog, whose presence and playtime improved her balance and morale. “I liked playing with Orbit. That was fun. It helped me improve my balance, playing ball with him,” she recalled.
Throughout her rehabilitation journey, Hailey's family played a crucial role, participating in her sessions and learning how to support her at home. Hailey's determination and hard work paid off as she made significant progress. From needing assistance with everything upon arrival, she became self-sufficient in caring for herself and demonstrated improved strength and endurance. During a community outing, she was able to sit in her chair for three hours and didn’t have any pain. She propelled her chair the entire time, up ramps, elevators and crossing the street.
As Hailey approached her high school graduation, the team at BSWIR – Dallas ensured she could participate in the ceremony remotely. They organized a "graduation roll" and later hosted a special celebration with her school officials and family, honoring her achievements and presenting her with awards and scholarships. “Her superintendent, the principal, a school board member, two of her teachers and all of the family came together to celebrate Hailey’s achievements,” said her mother. “They read off her scholarships, gave her awards and the principal gave a speech. It was like a graduation ceremony just for her.”
Hailey added, “I liked that even if I was here, I was able to have a ‘graduation walk.’ I like that the therapists cared enough to have it for me.”
Reflecting on her experience, Hailey expressed gratitude for the therapists' care and support during her journey to recovery and graduation. To anyone going through a similar experience, Hailey leaves this advice: “Just keep your head up and keep your family close, because they’ll be the reason you will get through it all.”