Felicia's Story

Spinal Cord Injury

Rehab ignites courage during apartment fire

For Felicia Garland, one of her biggest fears came true in April 2016. Her apartment building was on fire and she was trapped on the 7th floor.

“I was scared to death because I used a walker; I couldn’t take that on the stairs. Clutching the banisterFelicia2017-07 and a cane, I started down the steps. I knew the only way I was going to get out was to use techniques I’d learned at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM). I tuned out the people running past me and focused on staying in my lane, one step at a time. On the fifth floor, I became overwhelmed with smoke but by the grace of God and the Rehab Institute, I made it out alive.”

Felicia not only credits RIM with saving her life, but helping her walk again.

For years, Felicia had trouble walking and ultimately ended up in a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury. After surgery to put screws in her back, she chose RIM for therapy because it was close to home. Over the course of three months in outpatient therapy, Felicia went from being in a wheelchair, to using a walker, and then a cane.

“I had a lot of anxiety about falling. My therapists really put me at ease. They told me we were going to work on my recovery as a team, and we did.”

Felicia says thanks to RIM, she feels like she’s getting back to her normal self. She can walk for periods without a cane, has improved stamina, can easily lift weight and mentally, her therapy showed her just how tough she is.

“I’ve considered getting a t-shirt that says ‘Thanks to RIM, I made it out of my wheelchair and my apartment fire.' The Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan was clearly the best decision of my life."