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Healing and Happiness

Posted on June 8, 2017

Patient Tackles Outpatient Therapy with Expert Care and Upbeat Attitude

Shelby Smith and Lisa McBrideA lot can happen in four months. Just ask Shelby Smith and Lisa McBride. Smith is an amputee patient at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center undergoing occupational therapy, and McBride is her clinical specialist at PNRC.

In January of this year Smith was rushed to a local hospital after a case of strep throat resulted in a bacterial infection, leading to septic shock. “The infection was attacking me relentlessly,” Smith says. “There were two different occasions where I went into congestive heart failure. There was multi-organ failure and sinus tachycardia [fast heartbeat].”

After regaining consciousness, Smith learned six of her fingers and two of her toes would have to be amputated. She arrived at PNRC the first week of February with atrophied muscles, barely able to walk, unable to use her right hand, and still struggling with pain that was both physical and emotional.

Her therapy also was “physically and emotionally exhausting,” Smith says.

Therapy manager Christy Williams, physical therapist, explains that therapy is individualized to meet the needs of each patient at PNRC.

“Our therapists are skilled in so many ways, and they have a passion for what they’re doing. They have an internal drive to be the best at what they do and are all absolutely driven to meet the needs of their patients,” Williams says. “Outside of work hours they’ll often meet with prosthetists and work on insurance, almost being a case manager for these patients.”

McBride agrees. “We really, truly care about our patients getting better.”

In four short months of inpatient and outpatient therapy, Smith has regained her ability to do most of the things she used to do before the amputation. She has regained her life, her hope, and even her sense of humor. “I’m starting to cut vegetables again, but that’s been a dicey situation,” she laughs.

Smith has made the decision to embrace life with optimism. “She’s just had the best attitude, and I really think that’s why she’s come so far,” McBride says. “She is so motivated, and she is an inspiration.”

Smith’s story has been featured in local and national media, and the response has been overwhelming. “I am incredibly lucky,” Smith says as she touches the hand where five fingers used to be. “I know I lost this, but it’s a reminder every day of how lucky I really am to be here. I’m never going to forget that I had another chance at life.”

To learn more about therapy services at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, visit or call (865) 331-3600.               

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