Brianna's Story 

Brianna Mack smiles in her room following therapy.

Brianna Mack, a devoted mother of four and expecting her fifth child, led a bustling life managing her family's needs. Balancing work, childcare, and household duties, she embraced her role with joy and enthusiasm. However, her life took an unexpected twist when she underwent an emergency C-section at St. Tammany Parish Hospital during her 33rd week of pregnancy.

During her stay, she experienced a seizure that left her with weakness in her legs and arms, and she was unable to stand or care for herself. Tragically, this also meant being separated from her newborn baby boy, who needed specialized care in the Neonatal ICU. Determined to regain her independence and return to her family as soon as possible, Brianna chose Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital to help her on a path to recovery.

Upon her arrival at Northshore, Brianna faced significant challenges. Unable to stand or walk, she struggled with daily activities like dressing, showering and using the bathroom. Driven by her love for her family and desire to be reunited with her newborn son, she was determined to reclaim her life and reach her goal of restoring her previous level of function, if not surpassing it.

Her rehabilitation plan began with physical therapy, where she initially relied on the support of two therapists to stand in the parallel bars and coordinate her steps.  Her therapists also worked with her on her ability to get in and out of bed. During the course of her treatment, Brianna performed many exercises such as the seated stair stepper, pushing her wheelchair, using a walking harness and theraband exercises. The therapy that had the biggest impact for her was the exoskeleton, a wearable external robotic device which provided assistance to help retrain her muscles and walk. Brianna progressed from the parallel bars to a rolling walker and finally to walking up to 300 feet independently, even simulating carrying her baby with a six pound weight.

Occupational therapy played a pivotal role in aiding Brianna's recovery. Struggling with daily self-care tasks, her therapists worked with her to increase her strength through various exercises and balance training. Adaptive tools were introduced to make these tasks easier. After her 16-day inpatient rehabilitation stay, Brianna achieved near independence in performing her self-care activities.

Throughout her journey, Brianna experienced moments of elation, notably standing in the parallel bars for 26 minutes, which helped her regain confidence. The support of her family also played a significant role in her emotional and mental well-being. Their constant encouragement and belief in her strength inspired Brianna to persevere.

Reflecting on her experience at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, Brianna described it as wonderful, with therapists who demonstrated genuine care for their patients and their unique circumstances. 
When asked for advice to offer others in need of rehabilitation, she said, “Realize there will be good and bad days. Any progression, whether big or small is a step towards your ultimate goal. Do not overthink, just accept the circumstance and take it one moment at a time.”

Brianna's story is a testament to the power of determination and the motivating support of family. Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital provided the platform for her to rebuild her life and return to the role she cherished most – being a devoted and engaged mother. Her journey of healing and hope continues as she looks forward to attending outpatient therapy.