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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Resilient nurse regains independence after paralyzing SCI accident

October 20, 2021

On Aug. 5, 2021, Mackenzie Nash started her day like any other. The cardiac nurse went to work and afterward joined family and friends to go zip lining on a sunny Thursday afternoon, but in one moment her life changed forever: “I fell about 15 feet and landed on the ground, right on my back,” Mackenzie said.

The accident left the 28 year old paralyzed from the waist down. After a week on the trauma unit at MercyOne, in Des Moines, Iowa, Mackenzie spent the next week on the floor she’d worked on for years as a registered nurse. The experience gave her an entirely new perspective on patient care.

“Just being a patient, it's been such a challenging journey, but it's been challenging in both good and bad ways,” she said.

After talking with different rehabilitation hospitals, she and her loved ones knew Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals-Lincoln Campus was the perfect choice for spinal cord injury patients.

“I just kind of fell in love with the place, to be honest, and then just doing my research and seeing how specialized Madonna is in spinal cord injury therapy, it was a no-brainer,” Mackenzie said.

Once she arrived, the nurse-turned-patient followed the direction of her care team. During her intensive therapy, Mackenzie built up her core strength to help regain her balance and relearn the self-care skills she needed to go home.

“We worked on those fundamental things she could do to get back to her life, back to being a nurse and back home,” Brianna Eaves, Madonna occupational therapist, said.

With the support of her care team and family, Mackenzie pushed herself during her therapy sessions and her determination helped her thrive and leave Madonna weeks early.

“She wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible and not rely on other people to help her out,” Eaves recalled. “She’s just a motivated person.”

Mackenzie’s drive and confidence grew during her sessions at Madonna’s Independence Square, a simulated community where patients can engage and re-master real-life skills, such as grocery shopping, cooking a meal, transferring in and out of a vehicle or getting in and out of bed.

Now, back at home and at work, Mackenzie says she’s happy she decided to come to Madonna.

“Madonna has had such a huge hand in making my experience positive overall,” Mackenzie said. “Having this experience, now, I think it's going to help me be able to relate to my patients on a whole new level.”

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