After living her dream to become a flight nurse for seven years, Teresa Switzer fell out of the helicopter while loading a patient. She was rushed to the ER with cracked ribs, fractured bones in her back and some nerve damage to a leg. The doctors told Theresa that she would never be able to work again.
(For full video of her story, see the bottom of the page)
For any other patient, this would have been a devastating blow – but the adrenaline junkie from Paris, Illinois in the United States, is no quitter. After a couple of initial speedbumps, Teresa more or less lived in the therapy department, working hard and urging the physiotherapists to push and challenge her.
“Becoming the immobile patient, living life on the other side of the fence, was tough. But after six months and a lot of hard training, I was back in the air again.”
The initial stages of her recovery included a couple of tough lessons about the importance of early mobility. “In the beginning I was reluctant to move because it hurt so much. I didn’t get out of bed soon enough, so I ended up with a pressure injury. Fortunately, it healed quite quickly,” Teresa says.
“I am convinced that my hospital stay and recovery would have been different If I had access to products that help patients stand and get out bed.”
When she went back to flying, Teresa worked for a charitable air ambulance company called Grace on Wings. Then, after many years as a nurse, she joined Arjo in 2008. Today, she is part of the Medical Affairs outcomes team that develops our pressure injury prevention program. “When a colleague told me about Arjo, I realized that this is a company that helps people in situations I have been in myself – both as a caregiver and as an immobilized patient. It’s a perfect fit for me,” Teresa explains
“They say that mobility is life and I know how true that is. I can’t run anymore, but I try to keep up with my three grown kids when we go hiking and biking.”
“Even if I bounced back from the accident, I still have pain every single day. But staying mobile and the feeling that I am helping others keeps me going,” Teresa concludes.