Victoria's Story

Victoria Pope in rehabilitation

Spinal cord injury

A fourth-grade teacher, 35-year-old Victoria Pope, was on maternity leave after having her third child. All was going well, but a persistent headache prompted her to visit Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Round Rock. There, doctors diagnosed Victoria with post-partum preeclampsia, a rare condition that occurs when you have high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine after childbirth, and bleeding in her brain, which fueled a blood clot on her spine.

She was immediately transferred to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple, where specialists performed a laminectomy to enlarge the spinal canal to relieve pressure on her spinal cord. The blood clot had cut off the blood supply to part of her spine, resulting in paralysis from the chest down. She remained in the hospital for a few weeks.

Ready for the next step in her recovery, Victoria and her husband chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway to regain her independence.

Upon admission, Victoria was paralyzed from the chest down and could not move. Her care team assessed Victoria and developed a customized rehab plan that would help her reach her goal of being as independent as possible and return home to rejoin her husband and their three children.

Physical therapists put Victoria through various daily exercises to help her regain movement. During her first few weeks, Victoria used the Tilt Table and the standing frame to encourage weight-bearing activity in her legs and aid in regulating her blood pressure. Once her blood pressure was stable, Victoria progressed to working on wheelchair mobility, transfers and upper extremity strength training exercises. At the end of her stay, she was able to stand with assistance and devices, transfer independently, and mobilize in her wheelchair independently. Victoria was able to complete her bed mobility, activities of daily living, and, most importantly, play with her children.

Victoria’s devotion to her exercise program helped her gain strength and more control over her muscles. Those gains allowed her to hit major milestones, including performing her morning routine independently and planning to return to work.

Her family also lifted her spirits, “My husband brought our kids to visit me every day, and the motivation from seeing my children was very beneficial,” said Victoria.

Within four weeks, Victoria was ready for discharge. Throughout her time at BSWIR – Lakeway, Victoria learned “that I have the ability to overcome and persevere through a challenge as big as this and I’ve learned to cope with my new life.”

Victoria is continuing outpatient therapy, where she has started standing and walking with orthotic devices. She returned to work as a teacher and accomplished her biggest goal: picking up her toddler off the floor from her wheelchair.

To anyone going through a similar situation, Victoria leaves this advice: “Rehab can be a long process, so be patient and appreciate the small accomplishments.”