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Finding Inspiration in Her Own Determination

Finding Inspiration in Her Own Determination

Twenty five years ago, Katherine McCann required an above the knee amputation due to cancer. She tried prosthetics but was never able to make them work. She had pain in her back and became less mobile. 

While teaching in Texas, her co-workers started a running group. She longed to participate but never dreamed she could until a colleague persuaded her to join them in her wheelchair. Every morning, she’d wheel 1/2 mile around the campus and up a steep hill. She felt included and active again. 

Unfortunately, after leaving that position, her exercise routine diminished. Once again, she gradually became less active and gained more weight. By 2012, she weighed more than 300 pounds. Her limited mobility made exercise difficult so she decided bariatric surgery was her best option. Since the surgery, Katherine has lost 100 pounds. 

However, her weight and inactivity had taken its toll on her other knee. She was falling quite often and calling 911. She needed a knee replacement but because of her weight and medical history, many surgeons were reluctant to perform the operation. She located a surgeon in Jacksonville who became her medical partner. He performed the surgery and it went perfectly. Katherine researched her rehabilitation options prior to the surgery and asked to come to Brooks Rehabilitation. 

Therapy started the first day she arrived at Brooks’ University Crossing skilled nursing facility. “For whatever reason, I was fighting my therapist. I didn’t want to do the work and I didn’t want to bend my leg. I wasn’t improving. I finally decided one day to just surrender and do what they were asking me to do. Once I did, my range of motion improved dramatically.” 

When Katherine returned home, she was scheduled for physical and occupational therapy two times per week with Brooks AmeriCare Home Health. According to her occupational therapist, Andy McNett, she remained unsteady, her strength needed improving and she was doing her transfers incorrectly. Katherine’s wife was physically unable to help her so she had a strong fear of falling. At this point, she knew she had to do the hard work and she became her own advocate. She asked her therapists for the most effective exercises she could do to improve her strength. When her therapists weren’t with her, she continued to work on her exercises herself. 

“She was very determined. We could tell she was working on her exercises which led to great outcomes. She was stronger, had a greater range of motion in her leg and in her shoulders and was very appreciative of her therapy team,” said Andy. 

“I became so much stronger. I could stand again and even drove for the first time in months. All of my therapists at Brooks were terrific,” said Katherine. 

“Years ago, I had a student tell me I was an inspiration. I wondered why. Now I realize being an inspiration isn’t about running the fastest in a race. It’s about courage, dedication and commitment. And now I realize that maybe I can be an inspiration to someone else.”

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