Maria Endures More Rehab But Finally Gets Her Life Back

Maria’s accident crushed the entire left side of her body.

Editor’s Note: Maria Rea suffered horrible injuries in a one-car accident. She was unconscious for a week, heavily sedated for 6 weeks, and lived in the hospital for 9 months. Her life, the life of her family, and the life of her community were changed forever on February 25, 2011, when Maria answered a telephone call on her cell phone as she was driving to work. This remarkable story tells the true story of a courageous woman and the family and the community that never gave up on her. Part 4 of a 5 part series.

Maria later returned to the Shepherd Center for round two of day therapy “The therapists at Shepherd Center and I became very close. I felt like they were part of my family. Counting all three phases of therapy, plus my inpatient time, I spent about 9 months at the Shepherd Center. When I returned for my second round of day therapy, I was taught how to transfer from my wheelchair to my vehicle. That was really exciting but I really wanted to walk. I began to beg the therapist to put me in leg braces, so I could learn to walk. They kept telling me, “You need to have a lot of upper body strength to use a walker and walk with leg braces.”

I was crushed because they wouldn’t let me try. My mom and I cried and prayed. We called everybody in our community and had them pray that I would at least get to try to walk. The next day when I went back to therapy I insisted that I be given the opportunity to try to walk. The therapist finally broke down and told me, “Okay, we’ll put the leg braces on, so you can try to walk, but I really don’t think this is going to work for you.” Once the leg braces were strapped onto my legs, I was helped to the parallel bars. With the therapist standing right behind me, I began to take steps. I walked from one end of the parallel bars, turned around and walked back. My mom had brought her video camera and videoed the entire experience as she wiped away her tears.” When the second round of therapy ended, Maria was able to go home and back to school.

When Maria wanted to try walking again, she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“I was really excited to be able to go back to school and get some normalcy in my life, but fate once again dealt me a joker. Two weeks into the school session, I fell out of my wheelchair and broke my leg. I thought to myself, “Who does this? Who falls out of her wheelchair and breaks her leg?” I wasn’t jumping over a fence on a horse or anything of that nature. I was sitting in a wheelchair. I went back to the hospital and had surgery on my leg. The doctor told me that I would have to have bed rest for about 6 weeks, and I said, “No, I won’t stay in the bed that long.” So, in less than 2 weeks, I returned to work. I had my leg jacked-up over my head, I was in a power chair, and I went back to school. They couldn’t put a cast on my leg, due to issues with my skin. The Shepherd Center donated a modified minivan to me, so I could get back to a regular routine. Today I take my children to school, and I go to work at school every day. I pick the kids up after school when I finish my teaching, come home and pretty much can do whatever I want to do.

Next: Life is Wonderful Again for Maria Rea

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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