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Nancy M. will tell you she could proudly do a split at one point in her life, but when the retired Hackettstown, NJ educator had a mishap on the stairs, more than her pride was injured.

“My right leg ended up four steps behind me and my left leg was four steps ahead,” she recalls.

Nancy’s femur shattered in 30 places, requiring surgery and a 10-day stay at Morristown Medical Center. The wound was slow to heal and complications set in, eventually requiring a bone graft and a two-month stint at a rehabilitation center.

Healing Hands

When it came time for physical therapy, Nancy was understandably anxious. She had not been able to bear full weight on her right leg for more than six months and arrived at her first appointment in a wheelchair.

“She came in with a pretty significant impairment to her functional mobility,” recalls physical therapist Steven Tierney. “Given her surgical background, we had to carefully tailor her therapy.”

Over the course of 27 sessions on the Hackettstown Medical Center campus, Tierney worked with Nancy to restore her mobility with strengthening exercises and agility activities.

“It was excellent therapy,” Nancy says. “They were very careful. If I said something was hurting, the therapist immediately stopped and tried a different approach.”

From Wheelchair to Gardening

Nancy is now walking and has joined the Atlantic Rehabilitation Community Fitness program at Hackettstown Medical Center to continue her progress. With her newfound mobility, she is happily tending to the irises she planted in the spring – a big improvement from the previous year when she was housebound.

She is also appreciative of the quality physical therapy so close to home.

“They were so accommodating. If I had an emergency at home or was running late, there was never a ‘No, you can’t come in.’ It was always, ‘Let’s see when we can get you in.’ They paid attention to me as a person, not just a patient,” she says.

As for any future gymnastics moves, Nancy prefers to leave her days of doing splits in the past.


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