Leah McManus on Learning to Walk Again

Leah McManus never imagined she would find herself learning to walk again, especially while living in a senior community at the age of 34. Fortunately for her, rehab stays are available for all ages at CarDon & Associates’ Westfield community, Copper Trace. And that’s where she ended up taking her first steps while recovering from a horrific car accident.

In December of 2022, Leah was on active duty as a military dietitian for the Navajo Nation in Arizona. While driving from the hospital there to a satellite clinic in a smaller community, she endured a head-on collision with another vehicle. The accident left her femur and pelvis broken, her knee fractured, her ankle shattered — and the left side of her body impaired after a stroke. (The Copper Trace staff’s experience with older stroke patients proved to be vital during her recovery).

“It was just a weird time in my life,” Leah now says.

Last month, Copper Trace rolled out the red carpet for Leah’s “graduation” from rehab therapy. Her journey to that point was rocky yet rewarding.

While Leah was initially in intensive care in Arizona, her aunt and uncle visited and took care of her three-year-old daughter. Given the fact that Leah had to be transferred to an acute rehab facility, her relatives agreed to bring her daughter back home with them to Indianapolis. But Leah felt like she couldn’t fully recover without her daughter.

“I really needed to be near my daughter,” she said. “For mental health reasons and to heal. It was really hard being separated from her because we’re so close. She’s my only child, and I’m her only parent.”

Fortunately, the stars aligned for Leah to receive the rest of her therapy at Copper Trace. She took a military medical flight from Arizona to Indianapolis, where she made the most important milestones in her journey toward recovery.

“Mary was my favorite therapist at Copper Trace,” Leah said. “She really pushed my limits. She taught me how to use a cane, and she challenged me to climb my first flight of stairs — which was really scary, but she was wonderful. Learning to walk again was very exciting.”

Although fellow residents in the community were surprised to see someone so young among them, Leah appreciated the chance to socialize and engage in activities.

“It was great to get out of my room and get out of my head,” she said. “There were all sorts of fun things to do like arts and crafts, nail painting, bingo, games. That put me in a better mental state during recovery. And my daughter appreciated having things to do.”

While she looks forward to being back on duty, Leah is cherishing the time she has now at home with family. And she appreciates Copper Trace for making that possible.