Reed follows long road to recovery from Spinal Cord Injury
A childhood accident changes the course of sophomore Sammi Reeds life, but therapy gives her a chance to walk again

December 2, 2010
Savannah Behrends, Features Editor

Amy Reed gets a video message at work one day last April. She opens it up and hits ‘play’ and immediately starts to cry. Because for the first time in 13 years she’s seeing her daughter walk. When Sammi Reed was 18 months old she took a step and ended up falling off of the kitchen chair and the next morning nothing was the same. “I woke up this one morning and I couldn’t breathe. The ambulance was coming and I was turning purple. And my first memory is asking if the lights where for me,” sophomore Sammi Reed said.

The date was March 3, 1997 and it was a normal day. The phone would ring and Sammi Reed would get up on the kitchen chair to answer it like all of the other times but this time she fell.

“There was a phone and it was ringing and I reached for it on the kitchen chair and I fell off. I think it’s kind of funny because now I’m stuck in a wheelchair,” Reed said.

But she got up and acted fine. The next morning she was rushed to the
Hospital. Sammi was sent to St. Joe’s Hospital which is now Creighton
Hospital. She was there for a total of six weeks, and that’s where her
family got her diagnosis.

“Sammi’s diagnosis is a C4-C7 Spinal Cord Injury,” her mother Amy Reed
said. C4-C7 is the vertebras in her spine that were affected by her fall.
“Incomplete” means that there was no break in her spinal cord. What
caused her injury was the tissue at the C4-C7 vertebras swelled
and crushed the nerves causing her brain to not be able to send messa
ges to the rest of her body,” Amy Reed said.

Sammi is a quadriplegic. Meaning that she is suppose to be paralyzed everywhere below her neck. But what’s unique about Sammi is that she can feel all the way down to her toes and has control over her arms. She can feel and move her arms but she doesn’t have the ability to grab things that she needs or walk. So she has a “mouth piece”. It’s a tube of plastic with a mouth piece attached to the top and a rounded end so she can
push and move things around.

At the same time Amy and Russ Reed, her parents, were being investigated by the Omaha Police and the Child Protective Services (CPS). “We were both questioned in separately by the police. We think that they wanted to make sure that our stories matched up. It was the scariest experience,” Russ Reed said.

After Sammi got out of St. Joe’s Hospital, she was sent to a rehab facility in New Jersey with her mom for a total of two months. Russ stayed back here in Omaha to take care of what needed to change. For example they needed a van that could handle Sam’s new equipment and a place where they could live that had no stairs.

When she came back from the rehab facility in New Jersey, she continued to go to therapy. She goes to therapy three times a week to continue strengthening her muscles and work on walking “because apparently I can do that now,” Sammi said.

During therapy the helpers will put her threw different exercises that help with balance and strength including the swing, the ball, and stretching. The therapy finally paid off last summer when Sammi toke her first steps since the accident. “It was scary, but it felt weird but in a good way,” Sammi said. Sammi’s mom was at work when she got the news on a video sent to her phone from the therapist.”I hit ‘play’ on my phone and was stunned. I started crying at my desk. I would’ve loved to have been there but the surprise was amazing,” Amy said. Her parents have been able to see her walk since the first time. They say “It’s so emotional to see. To work for so hard and to put so much effort into the little things we take for granted the little things Sammi has to work so hard to get.” But because she’s in a wheelchair a lot of people think that she must be mentally challenged. One time a person actually told her “god bless you and give it time.”

“People assume that because I’m in a wheelchair that I belong in SPED classes but in reality I’m in more than a few normal classes and two honors classes,” Sammi said.

    Sammi competes in the Special Olympics and had normal Halloweens Special
    Olympics is a competition where anyone with a disability can compete with each
            other. For every grade between 4th t now she’s won over 42 medals and ribbons.
           She competes in the Slalom obstacle and relay. The Slalom obstacle is where
    she  has to go around a square and then a circle. Then she weaves through three
    cones and goes around another square The relay is where there are four people,
    two people on each side then she takes the baton and races it to the other side a
    couple times and vice versa.

    When she was growing up some of her Halloween costumes included a Barbie in
    a Car, a Drama Queen, and one Halloween and escaped convict in a stolen
    police car.

    The smallest mistake can alter your life but that doesn’t mean you stop living it.
           Sammi is looking forward to going to college “far away where my mother can’t
follow.” And near in the future she plans on walking across the stage to get her diploma with the rest of the class of 2013. She’s determined and with her parent’s support she will do it.

“It’s hard letting go. We’re working on it, but it’s not easy,” Amy said, “But we want her to be successful and we’ll support her with what she wants to do.”

Sammi holds a laundry basket in her kitchen. She later suffered a spinal cord injury after a fall from a kitchen chair.
Photo courtesy of Amy Reed
Sammi balances on an excersise ball with only the help of her therapists hand during a therapy session . This exercise will help her the balance and control of her body and bring her one step closer to being able to walk.

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