On May 8, 2018, Michaela Sneed was walking with a friend to a karaoke bar in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana.
The 26-year-old first lieutenant in the Louisiana Army National Guard was enjoying down time before starting graduate school at Southern University New Orleans.
As the women began crossing the street, a distracted driver in an SUV hit them. The impact from the accident tore Sneed’s spinal cord from the base of her skull.
She was transported to University Health Shreveport, where surgeons performed an occipitocervical fusion surgery, a procedure in which the C1 through C5 vertebrae are fused to the base of the skull.
“We were told it wasn’t a survivable type of injury,” said Sneed’s mother, Janice Sneed. “She wasn’t moving at the time. They weren’t sure if she would even make it through the surgery.”
Two weeks later, Sneed was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston—the No. 3 rehabilitation hospital in the nation—for in-patient care. Although she was unable to talk, walk, move her limbs or eat when she arrived at TIRR, her care team began intense therapy to jumpstart her recovery.
“My mom explained that, the day after I got here, I was in the gym,” Sneed said. “They put a ball behind my back and made me sit up because I was just swaying.”
The accident also caused Sneed to suffer post-traumatic amnesia. She was unable to remember the accident, her hospital time in Louisiana and many days after she left the hospital in Shreveport.
“I was in physical therapy or something. That was the first thing I remember,” she said. “I remember asking my mom, ‘Where am I? Where are we? What happened?’”
After six weeks of intense physical, occupational and speech therapy, Sneed—whom surgeons in Louisiana said had a high chance of quadriplegia—was able to regain feeling and movement in her arms and legs.
On July 6, she left the TIRR inpatient facility under the power of her legs, assisted by a walker.
“She’s always been a fighter. I could always see it in Michaela that she didn’t see this as the end,” Janice said. “When she got to the point where she could communicate, she said, ‘I want to walk out of TIRR.’ And she [did].”
Her next achievement in outpatient care was running.
“That was one of my goals before I leave—to just run a little bit, jog a little bit. It doesn’t have to be fast,” Sneed said. “If I can run, I know I can do anything.”
After spending a few more weeks in outpatient care and building her physical strength, Sneed accomplished her goal. On Sept. 25, she ran for the first time since her injury.
Sneed’s care team was led by Lisa Rose Wenzel, M.D., an attending physician at TIRR Memorial Hermann and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine, who oversaw her recovery from a severe spinal cord injury that “most people would die from,” she said.
“It’s a miracle that she lived and went from being so severely neurologically impaired to having such a great recovery,” Wenzel said. “
On Oct. 11, Sneed’s last day in outpatient care at TIRR, she and her parents returned home to Louisiana.
Sneed is now hoping to pursue her master’s degree in social work and to return to her unit in the next year.
Sneed has been “an inspiration for a lot of our patients,” Wenzel said.
“This is a patient who came in to the hospital dependent for all of her care. Now she’s completely independent with her care and is making plans to return back to grad school,” Wenzel said. “I really feel like … her testimony, her story [will] help other people who have gone through difficult injuries or times to be able to keep hope, be optimistic, work hard and not lose sight of their dream.”
Return The Favor: Glowing green for Veterans https://t.co/w7LwFweRyD via @abc27News
@j_rodricks1 @MJEjags @katyisd We are so grateful for these blood donations. They make a huge difference in our cancer patients’ lives. Thank you.
Thousands of patients in need of heart surgery may soon have a new option. Read more: https://t.co/3p9SO6C3xz. https://t.co/PZ71Ui3vkB
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@MDMagazine Thanks for the shout-out
After a surprise diagnosis at age 36, Paula Carrillo finds success with overcoming stage 2A #colorectalcancer with Dr. Michael Overman: https://t.co/iVnpQGygSR #CancerMoonshot #endcancer
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Two of the graduate education programs at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth were ranked among the highest in the nation in the just-released 2020 edition of the Best Graduate Schools guide by U.S. News and World Report.
Veteran reopens family business in Sweetwater https://t.co/no8JZ6xvjW via @MCADnews
Angiogenesis is the process of creating new blood vessels. Learn how angiogenesis inhibitors work in treating cancer: https://t.co/z42nWglE58 #endcancer
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsVeteransAffairs
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Aida Nancy Sanchez. Aida served during the Vietnam War from 1952 to 1976.Aida was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in November 1931. She graduated at the age of 15 and won a scholarship to attend St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana. She graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Upon graduation, she applied and was accepted into the army physical therapy school program with an age waiver due to being under 21 at the time. Aida then headed to Fort Sam Houston, Texas to attend and graduate from the program in 1953. This is where she also met then General Dwight Eisenhower. Afterwards, she was assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Centre at Fort Sam Houston then to Fitzsimmons Army General Hospital in Denver, Colorado around 1956. During this assignment, Aida met President Eisenhower when he came to visit his friend whom was her patient. She stated that he remembered her from the physical therapy school and sent a pot of stew he made a day or two after the visit.After she completed her assignment at Fitzsimmons, she was sent to Rodriguez Army Hospital in Puerto Rico until she was discharged from active duty and went into the army reserves for two years. During that time, Aida worked for the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois for a year before becoming the Director of the Bureau of Crippled Children within the Department of Health of Puerto Rico. During her time in Puerto Rico, she received a letter from the Department of Defense stating that they needed more physical therapists, so she decided to return to active duty. Her first assignment was the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, then she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a year or two. Afterwards, Aida was sent to Fort Myer, Virginia to establish a physical therapy clinic within the Andrew Rader Clinic at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once setting up the unit, Aida was sent to graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and upon graduation was assigned to Letterman Army Medical Center to oversee the clinical affiliations of five universities located near the hospital.Aida’s next assignment was to become the assistant chief of physical therapy at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii before she received orders to deploy in support of the Vietnam War in 1970. She was originally sent to the Army hospital in Saigon to replace the physical therapist but was routed to the 95th Evacuation Hospital near Da Nang to establish the first physical therapy clinic within the hospital. During her tour of duty, Aida was extended to deploy to Cambodia and assist then President Lon Nol because she had previously helped him during his stay at the Tripler Army Medical Center. She was constantly flying back and forth between Vietnam and Cambodia to help the president get physically better. She assisted many American and Cambodian soldiers and citizens with their physical therapy needs while deployed. After Aida redeployed, she was sent to Fort Gordon as the chief physical therapist who oversaw the transfer of the physical therapy clinic from older barracks into the newly built Eisenhower Army Medical Center. It took about six years to complete the task and Aida retired as a Lieutenant Colonel shortly after with about 24 years of service.Thank you for your service, Aida!
Join us, @TexasChildrens and @SPARKforAutism at a Community Awareness Research Event for underrepresented communities this Saturday. Register here: https://t.co/uNhKL7aXnM #autism #autismresearch https://t.co/KBpDj7yRQD
Baylor College of MedicineBaylorCollegeOfMedicine
Learn how Dr. Lisa Hollier is helping to shine a spotlight on maternal mortality and working to make childbirth safer for women around the world. #OBGYN
MD Anderson Cancer CenterMDAnderson
"With all of this support and love, it’s difficult to not be positive. Of course, some days were harder than others. I still remember how weak I sometimes felt and how uncomfortable it was to wear a pump after chemo," says Paula Carrillo."Still, I won’t complain. Despite the sudden bad news, I got a second chance, thanks to my family, my friends and my team at MD Anderson." #endcancer