When Jasmine Paule finished her last snowboarding run of the day on February 20, 2016, she didn’t suspect she had an injury. Three days later, she had a pain in her back — a knot that needed to be rubbed out, she thought. But as the hours passed, her fingers went numb, her triceps went tingly and shooting pains went through her arm. Her roommate, a nursing student, drove her to urgent care.
“When I arrived I could still walk but could feel my body slowly becoming weaker,” said Jasmine, now 27. “The urgent care nurse said I needed a hospital and by that time I needed assistance walking out. By the time we arrived at Spring Valley Hospital, I couldn’t walk at all; I had to be wheeled in.”
Jasmine had bruised her C4 vertebrae while snowboarding.
She was paralyzed from the neck down.
Journey of 1,000 Steps
The Acute Rehabilitation unit on the third floor of Spring Valley Hospital became Jasmine’s home for the next month, filled with intensive physical and occupational therapy sessions and plenty of encouraging visits from family, friends and coworkers.
“I’m extremely fortunate for what Katie [Capistran, the manager] and her team gave me at Spring Valley Hospital,” said Jasmine. “They really went above and beyond for me — I don’t even have the words to explain. I didn't have the strength to push myself in a wheelchair, and Lotty [Caro, a physical therapy assistant] developed ways it would be easier for me to push myself. They would make sure I was comfortable and always kept me longer than they had to. I would ask them to, because I wanted to get stronger.”
“I felt it was especially important for Jasmine to regain strength in her hands, because she could type, text, answer the phone, work at a desk,” explained Lotty.
While Jasmine made progress at Spring Valley Hospital, the Acute Rehab team had a new journey in mind for their determined patient — helping her secure a spot at Craig Hospital in Colorado, a facility that specializes in spinal cord injuries.
“I ended up going to Craig [Hospital] because of Lotty,” said Jasmine. Through the efforts of Lotty and social worker Tracey [Barros], the process began and Jasmine headed to Colorado for three more months of therapy, surrounded by other spinal cord injury patients.
Today, 16 months after a day of snowboarding changed her life, Jasmine considers herself fully independent and walks with a brace on her left leg for support. “The first two weeks at Spring Valley Hospital, I couldn't even brush my teeth,” said Jasmine. The fingers on her left hand are still paralyzed, but “my right side is substantially stronger. There’s not much I can’t do.” This included learning how to write with her right hand (an extra challenge, since she’s lefthanded), using special tools for cooking and other tricks her therapists taught her. “I used to hate washing dishes, but I practice and keep doing it, and have the confidence to say ‘I can wash this pile of dishes in 10 minutes,’” she said.
“The occupational therapists always told me to use my hand, even when it wasn’t moving. First, to get the signals down and secondly, in case it doesn’t come back, I have the confidence that I can use it for support. I’ve learned to adapt because of occupational therapy; it was the creative part of my recovery.”
In August 2016, six months after her accident, Jasmine returned to work in marketing for Caesars Entertainment. “When I started, I was still in a wheelchair, and I remember one of my chief concerns was how to open the door from the parking lot to get to my office. Now if you see me, you’d think I sprained my knee. Even when I see videos of myself, I still can’t believe it’s me.”
“My recovery has been a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without the help of people at Spring Valley Hospital. I’ve been surrounded by beautiful human beings the entire time.”
Learn more about rehabilitation at Spring Valley >