On Dec. 17 2010, LeeAnn Ketcham was enjoying an afternoon on the slopes, snowboarding down the mountain on a beautiful winter day. A patch of ice threw her off balance and she fell, changing her life forever. She was airlifted to a trauma center, where she learned that she had suffered a spinal cord injury, and the road ahead for recovery would be tough.
LeeAnn spent the next 30 days in the acute hospital, healing from her injuries and beginning to learn about the challenges that lay ahead. She understood her need for an inpatient rehabilitation program, one with experienced therapists, trained in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. LeeAnn chose to come to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Concord because of the experienced therapy available to her and availability of outpatient therapy once her inpatient stay was completed.
LeeAnn recalls her first days at HealthSouth, speaking fondly of her therapy team, “They taught me how to do everything.”
It was difficult period of time; the healing process was both physical and emotional. She attributes the progress she made to her therapists encouraging and challenging her during therapy sessions.
“They pushed me to reach my goals,” said LeeAnn.
Her team focused on teaching her to maximize her independence in order to return home. LeeAnn discharged home with the ability to transfer independently and mobilize in a wheelchair.
Returning to HealthSouth as an outpatient, LeeAnn has worked hard to make gains. She has spent months building her strength. This time has also helped with the emotional healing.
“Increasing my upper body strength makes me more independent. That independence makes me stronger,” said LeeAnn, noting the difference.
LeeAnn believes she has a new perspective on her rehabilitation.
“I love my therapist’s now.” she says.
LeeAnn has worked with the therapists at HealthSouth on strengthening, utilizing the rehabilitation technologies and therapy pool at the hospital. She can see that the hard work is paying off. She has more energy than before. LeeAnn has a positive outlook on her future.
For those at the beginning of the process, she speaks honestly, “People told me the first month would be the hardest. At first I was angry, and that’s okay.”
She notes that rehabilitation is a long process, “but it gets better because you can see the progress you are making.”
Now, LeeAnn is moving forward, reentering college and taking charge of her future. She is studying art in hopes of being able to become a teacher. She said she enjoys being with children and looks forward to teaching them about various mediums.