In October 2021, Alyson West embarked on a vacation to visit her friends in Fort Lauderdale, a trip that would mark a turning point in her life. The Nashville resident was caused to fall 12 feet down on a boat and was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center, where a multidisciplinary team was waiting for her to be examined.
The 27-year-old fractured part of her cervical spine and injured nerves near the back of her neck.
Dr. Roberts, the chief of neurosurgery at Broward Health Medical Center, vividly remembers the critical moment, “I recall she didn't have any sensation or movement. We typically call that a complete injury, and patients usually don’t recover from a movement standpoint.”
Dr. Roberts performed two surgeries and she was later transferred to the Respiratory Care Unit (RCU).
“This accident has impacted my whole life,” West said. “I went from being fully independent to now moving with great difficulty, relying on a wheelchair or a walker.”
More than a year after the accident, West returned to Broward Health’s flagship hospital to reunite with Dr. Roberts. Their first encounter was filled with a warm hug and all smiles.
“Seeing her was great, we really thought she would be severely paralyzed,” Dr. Roberts said.
The highlight of her visit was when West stood up with the helping hands of her neurosurgeon, and she took a few steps to show him her progress.
“Although everything takes longer, and it’s taken me time to adapt to the new struggles in life, it’s nice to show him the surgeries were a success and it helped,” West said.
West has overcome the odds, she is able to drive with her left foot and works as a pediatric crisis counselor at a hospital in Nashville.
“Things get better, you have to keep pushing forward and convince yourself you can do it,” West said. “I think a lot of it is keeping your mental health strong and staying motivated,” West said.