Neesha's Story: A Devoted Mother

Geeorneesha (Neesha) Allen was driving home on September 12, 2020, when she was hit by another vehicle. “When the ambulance got there, I woke back up, I was under the steering wheel when they found me,” Neesha remembers. “I was on my way home; I was probably about five minutes away from home. In the middle of my turn, someone was speeding and smacked me into a gate. He totaled both cars, I broke my neck in three places, my lower back, and my left arm.”

Dayton Fire Department transported Neesha to Miami Valley Hospital. She suffered multiple fractured vertebrae, a spinal cord injury, and a left humerus fracture. Alyssa Gans, MD, trauma surgeon, was at the hospital when Neesha arrived.

“Neesha’s spinal injury is center to all of the things that were going on,” Dr. Gans says. “Because of her spinal injury, she had an injury to her spinal cord that led to her blood pressure being low in combination with all of the other things from the accident.”

At the time of Neesha’s accident, the pandemic was at its height, so all patients were COVID tested before going to surgery. Neesha tested positive and had to be separated from her family. Since her surgery was emergent, the hospital team proceeded. “The spinal surgery Neesha needed was considered emergent. Even at the height of the pandemic, people got their emergent and urgent surgeries taken care of,” Dr. Gans says. 

“When the nurses came, it was like sent from heaven. I could tell they cared about me,” Neesha says. “They were so wonderful, you know, I couldn’t see my kids for a while. They took me outside to see them.”

Neesha was paralyzed for a while after the accident. “When she came to us, she was not walking,” says Jim Christoffel, physical therapist. “She had some emerging leg function, which was really promising. She started very early on getting in our exoskeleton.”

Miami Valley Hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation program was the first in the Dayton area to offer the Ekso technology. The robotic exoskeleton is a wearable, battery-operated bionic exoskeleton that uses external motors to power the hip and knee joints and assists patients in performing a full, weight-bearing, reciprocal gait pattern. Such gait training can be key in the recovery of patients with injuries like Neesha’s.

“She was up in the exoskeleton one, two times a week … it simulates walking for an individual. The individual is giving as much effort as they can, but the exoskeleton is there to aid, kind of assist and provide a normal gait pattern,” Jim explains. “As we go, [the patient] is doing more and more of the work and the robot is doing less and less of the work.”

Neesha transitioned to walking with no robotic assistance required. “I can walk with the walker, nice distance,” she says. “Going through stuff like this, it’s so easy to get up and lay around all day and feel bad for yourself; you really have to push yourself.”

“She sought out this athletic trainer who she’s with right now, and working outside of rehab,” Jim says. “That’s Neesha. She doesn’t give up. It’s people like Neesha who step out, find their own way, and push themselves even further to see those large changes.”

“I would like to thank Miami Valley,” Neesha says. “The whole trauma unit has been wonderful.” In addition to the care they provided Neesha, the unit supported her kids for Christmas the year of her accident. “They got everything they wanted. They were so thankful and grateful, just the fact that they stepped up and did that for me,” Neesha says.

Neesha’s positivity played a key role in her recovery. “You need to have faith. You need to believe in God. Being positive, trying to see the better outlook in life, you just need to always look at the better things … Just keep a good positive head about it.” 

Headshot of Alyssa Gans, MD,MBA,FACS

Alyssa Gans, MD,MBA,FACS

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