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Many Milestone Achievements for NRN patient

Alex Alexandria continues to progress in her NRN training and can now use forearm crutches to help her walk.

Ms. Alexandria Zink was first admitted to the intensive care unit at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia on June 7, 2011. She was 20-years -old. Though only the beginning of her long path of recovery, her arrival at that point marked the end of a complicated and difficult journey, beginning on May 8, 2011.

On that date, Ally (as she is known to friends and family) sustained C5 spinal cord injury following a diving accident on the waters of Stewart Inlet in Juniper, Florida. Initially treated at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, Ally has no memory of this time. Following the flight to Atlanta, Ally experienced significant complications, including multiple blood clots, and required hospitalization at the Gwinnett Medical Center.

On admission to Shepherd, she was unable to voluntarily move below her injury and required a ventilator for breathing. Ally remembers the first time, soon after admission, when she discovered she could move the fingers of her left hand. The next month brought many milestone achievements, as Ally spoke for the first time since her injury, and was able to come to a full upright position on a tilt table.

Having successfully weaned off ventilator assistance for breathing, and regaining movement below her injury at a fast rate, Ally entered the NeuroRecovery Network Program on October 10, 2011. She quickly set to the work of maximizing her neurological recovery and function. When she began the program, Ally had only just started working on ambulation with a rolling walker, and only walked during her physical therapy sessions with someone guarding her for safety. Outside of therapy, she used a manual wheelchair for mobility. Within two weeks of beginning the program, Ally was walking into and out of therapy, progressing quickly to full time ambulation with her walker. Since that time, Ally transitioned quickly to forearm crutches, and finally to two canes. Currently, she is able to walk short distances without an assistive device of any kind, with only periodic loss of balance.

During her time as a participant at the NRN, Ally has moved quickly to get back to the activities she enjoys most. Last month, she attended her first concert, Pretty Lights and Bass Nector with her boyfriend, Michael. Ranked number 10 in the world in Equitation over fences (Hunter and Jumper disciplines,) Ally learned recently that the horse she previously worked with has also suffered an injury. She and her equine friend will spend some time learning to recover together when she returns home to Florida next week.

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Learn all about how the Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) is developing and expanding access to activity-based therapies, resulting in improved health, quality of life, and function.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders