Shields snapped her femur after she slipped from a balancing board and had to have seven metal rods in her leg.
When Brooke Shields broke her leg last month, she feared the worst. The actor was concerned she would be left paralyzed but now, she's confirmed that she's learning to walk again. The journey to this point wasn't easy by any matter of stretch. She endured severe pain, had to have multiple surgeries which included inserting seven metal rods to support her bones, and underwent physical therapy. It all happened when she was using a balance board as part of her daily workout routine. She switched off for a second and went flying up in the air, before snapping her femur as she fell down. "It felt like it was all in slow motion,” Shields told People. “And then I just started screaming. ... Sounds came out that I've never heard before.”
“I stupidly switched my focus, and I flew up in the air and just hit perfectly and snapped my femur,” said the 55-year-old at the time, reported TODAY. She was worried about ending up paralyzed. It was one of her foremost thoughts immediately after the accident. Shields said that "survival kicked in" as EMTs, who had arrived on the scene, put her on a stretcher. “So, I kept saying, 'I can feel my toes' because I was so afraid I was paralyzed,” she recalled.
She had to undergo multiple surgeries, the first of which included inserting two metal rods in her leg, "one from the top of my hip down, and another across into the hip socket." She was forced to undergo surgery again after her femur popped out of the configuration. She had to have another five rods and a metal plate inserted to secure her bone structure. Just when Shields thought she had turned a corner, she developed a staph infection, which demanded another surgery. "At first they feared it might be MRSA (a type of bacteria resistant to antibiotics)," said Shields. "Thank God it wasn't. If it had been, my doctor said it would have been a race against time. That's how you can become septic. It seemed unthinkable."
The fact that she suffered the injury during the pandemic added to the anxiety. Shields has asthma which compounded her fears and that of the doctors but thankfully she didn't contract the virus. After returning home, she began physical therapy. She felt helpless as she re-learned to walk. Shields might have faced multiple hurdles on her way to recovery but she's got the mental strength to see it through. “If anything, I'm a fighter," said Shields. She saw the recovery as a parallel to her acting career. She never stopped working even as she lost out on opportunities.
“This is my journey, and if it took me breaking the largest bone in my body, then recovery is something I want to share,” she added. “We have to believe in ourselves and encourage one another. There's no other way to get through life, period."
Cover image credit: Getty Images | Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MoMA