Spinal cord injury
49-year-old Fort Worth native Julie Curtis was used to being independent. A business owner, she knew what had to happen from day to day. Born with spinal complications, she had already undergone three surgeries for her condition, the last one being 17 years ago. Little did she know that her recent surgery for a benign neoplasm would present her with entirely new challenges.
Following surgery, Julie faced a completely unexpected outcome: her legs were numb, and walking seemed like a distant memory. She was wheelchair-bound for four weeks and experienced right hip and foot drop. Unable to use her two-story house fully, she had to confine her activities to the ground floor, making her dependent on her family.
Julie's determination to regain her independence and return to her normal life led her to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Fort Worth. After meeting an occupational therapist during her inpatient rehabilitation, Julie realized she needed intensive therapy to achieve her goals. Her competitive spirit and desire to invest in herself made the Day Neuro Program the perfect fit for her.
Upon admission, Julie set ambitious goals: regaining independence, eliminating the need for assistance and returning to wearing high heels.
The team of therapists at BSWIR – Fort Worth worked tirelessly to support Julie in achieving her goals. They designed a comprehensive program that included LiteGait treadmill sessions to improve balance, exercises with a slider and skateboard to open up her right hip and occupational therapy to relearn daily activities.
Throughout her journey, Julie made steady progress and reached significant milestones. She experienced consistent improvements, such as enhanced balance and newfound strength, which encouraged her to continue pushing forward. These small but crucial victories served as powerful motivators, reinforcing her grit and commitment to her recovery.
As Julie's physical capabilities grew, she found inspiration in the collaborative effort between herself and her therapists. "They've gone above and beyond to get me to a level of freedom I didn't expect to have," she said about her therapy team. "I've regained confidence with going up and down stairs here. Being able to walk around the warehouse independently was a challenge, but I've gotten so much better with it!"
Throughout her rehabilitation journey, Julie's family played a crucial role. Her husband and mother provided support, driving her around and assisting with household chores until she could manage them independently. Their love and encouragement were essential to her success.
As her rehabilitation experience unfolded, Julie discovered her true strengths. She realized that her competitive nature, combined with the support of her therapists, could lead her to achieve the seemingly impossible. She had weekly "aha" moments where she would notice something improving.
"I had random moments where some part of me would wake up, which helped me improve," she mentioned. "The progress is faster than I thought it would be here. Doing even the smallest of things helped me to get better."
As she left BSWIR - Fort Worth, Julie looked forward to continuing her journey to independence. Her experience has taught her the importance of hope, laughter, and confidence, which she found abundantly at the hospital.
The Day Neuro Program had been a life-changing and rewarding experience, pushing Julie to become the best version of herself. "No matter what frame of mind I was in when I arrived, I was immediately met with hope, laughter and confidence, which always turned my attitude around within a very short period of time. Being here has been almost like a safe place."
Julie advises others facing similar challenges to embrace rehabilitation programs fully and give as much as they can to the process. "Be as strong as you can be, physically and in your spirit," she exclaimed. "Balance that hope and acceptance of where you're at. If you can focus on that, do all the things you can do. Strengthen the parts of you that do respond."