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Meet Vanessa, a speech therapist who went through her own journey as a patient with PBRC

Vanessa suffered a knee injury to her right leg in 2017 and began visiting the rehab center. Now she works there as a speech therapist.

ODESSA, Texas — For any mom, work can get busy. Especially, for Vanessa Zoelzer.

When she’s not home with her kids, she works as a speech therapist at the Permian Basin Rehab Center.

But Vanessa has actually been undergoing therapy at the center a whole lot longer.

That’s because Vanessa is also a patient there.

Life started to change back in 2017. That’s when Vanessa suffered a knee injury to her right leg while climbing onto a truck. As it happened, her meniscus tore.

The meniscus is a cartilage in your knee that stabilizes the joint. After getting surgery, she encountered problems with a nerve block. 

"My leg was numb from the thigh down to my ankle," Vanessa said.

The injury caused Vanessa to lose her ability to walk, stand up on her own, even drive. On top of that, five months earlier, she had just given birth to her baby girl. Any mom knows, holding your baby in your arms is one of life’s greatest pleasures, something that Vanessa couldn’t do either.

“[My husband] had to step up and help me. I couldn't hold my child. I couldn't make bottles for her because I couldn't walk without the crutches. I couldn't take care of her by myself so when I got off work, someone had to be there at the house to take care of them… I couldn't do it without my family's support," Vanessa said

That support is what she needed to be the best mom she can be for her two kids.

"I was scared I wouldn't be able to walk again.... Having two young children, my goal was to be able to take care of them…. Having a five month old, it requires being able to hold and carry them and rock them. Sitting in a chair with a rocking chair, my husband would get her out of my hands for me because I couldn't get out of the chair myself……same thing with my son, I couldn't do a lot of things with him, that was my main priority was geting back to where I was to take care of my children," Vanessa said.

The one way she could move a step further was getting her muscles active again. That's when the Permian Basin Rehab Center stepped in.

"Her muscles weren't turning on to work at all," said a PRBC therapist.

Regenerating nerves can take months, even years of recovery, but the strides she's made have been tremendous thanks to her therapists.

"The other complication we had in her treatment is a year after, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it added a layer of difficulty when trying to treat her," the therapist said.

When she wasn't at the center, Vanessa also worked on home programs recommended by her therapists. Over time, she saw her therapists from three days a week, down to two days, and finally, she's only seeing them one day a week.

The rehab center has provided Vanessa different ways to get her muscles working back again. From massage therapy to electrical, and three years of physical therapy, now Vanessa has 50-75% improvement. 

Those therapies paid off because today, Vanessa can walk on her own again.

"It felt good seeing her making that progress because I can be there to support her at home, but I can't make her any better. It put me at ease knowing she's in a good place with good people that are getting her in the right direction," Daniel Zoelzer said.

The right direction-back to her family.

Vanessa won't be at 100% just yet but what she always keeps at 100% is her hope and faith.

"God put me here for a reason, he told me to come here for a reason because I don't think I'd have that support anywhere else. They never gave up on me," Vanessa said.

Now that she's also a therapist herself at the Rehab Center, she's using that experience to encourage her patients to keep pushing yourself, the same way her therapists encouraged her to never give up.

"It's a different point of view because now I get to be on that side and see those struggles, and never give up on someone and push them, celebrate their small victories," Vanessa said.

"That's very important. I think parents need to hear that. I know I needed to hear that."

For more information on how to help people like Vanessa through the PBRC, you can click or tap here.

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