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Cara: Physical Therapy

Cara Lyons

While crossing the street to get to class one day, Cara, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, was struck by a car in the crosswalk. Although she was disoriented at first, she shook it off thinking she was fine. When she stood up, she had severe pain shooting through her foot and ankle. Thankfully her roommate was nearby and was able to help her.

Nine days in the hospital and four surgeries later, Cara had a lot of healing to do after suffering from an ankle fracture and a Lisfranc injury, in which bones in her midfoot were broken.

“All the little things became a major ordeal,” said Cara, who has been a dancer all her life. “Being in a wheelchair and needing a shower, going to classes, getting to the library, or being able to go out with friends was all very challenging.

“I had to stop and rethink everything, like how I was going to climb stairs. I had to be patient with myself and, through it all, asking for and accepting the help of others made me a stronger person.”

Cara started physical therapy at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute located in Oakland and was determined to get back to her old self as quickly as possible. In addition to activities of daily living, it was very important for Cara to be able to ballet dance and balance on her toes again. She told herself that she was not going to leave physical therapy until she reached her goal.

“My therapist, Catherine, was great,” said Cara. “She kept me focused on the end result and challenged me during every session. She helped me understand that patience with the process would pay off.”

The physical therapy certainly paid off. Cara is back to dancing in the Pitt Ballet Club and has now shifted her focus back to her neuroscience major in hopes of becoming a physician’s assistant.

Read more stories from physical therapy patients.

Learn more about the Physical Therapy Program.