Newtown woman recovers from broken neck thanks to cutting-edge medicine

Newtown woman recovers from spinal cord injury
By Robert Miller
Staff Writer
Posted: 02/09/2009 06:10:34 PM EST

It was only after her husband Keith was sure Trudy Tuffy would stride through life again, that he told her what doctors had told him -- that she probably would spend her days paralyzed from the neck down.
"It was probably three-quarters of the way through rehabilitation,'' she said. "He told me 'You know you weren't supposed to recover like this.'
"The doctors told him the odds were maybe 5 or 10 percent.''
"It was a complete spinal cord injury,'' said Dr. David Bomback, one of the surgeons who operated on Tuffy.
But thanks to great medical care from start to finish, Tuffy, 45, of Newtown, has recovered almost completely from a fall that broke her neck.
She's back at work at Scholastic Inc. in Danbury, where she is senior director of Internet product development.
She's starting to run again. And while her once-fleet fingers are a bit slower at the computer keyboard, that skill is coming back as well.
"It's sort of amazing,'' she said.
Tuffy took part in a day-long seminar at Danbury Hospital last week featuring speakers from The Miami Project -- a team of doctors and nurses at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami that now make up the largest and most comprehensive center for treating spinal cord injuries in the world.
Some of the things Tuffy's doctors did to help her were based on protocols established in Miami.
Tuffy was injured by a fall from a backyard hammock.
Having finished

a big project at work, she had some colleagues over to her home to relax. She and a friend decided to share the hammock, which flipped over on them. "She tumbled out and landed on her knees,'' Tuffy said of her friend. "I fell six inches. I broke my neck. ''
Immediately after she landed, Tuffy said, she lost all sensation in her limbs.
"I never lost consciousness,'' she said. "But I was kind of in a fog.''
After an ambulance rushed her to Danbury Hospital, Bomback and his colleague, Dr. David Kramer -- the co-directors of the hospital's Spine Center -- took over her care.
Bomback said the vertebrae in the middle of Tuffy's neck were completely dislocated.
"It had reduced the space for the spinal cord by about 60 percent,'' he said.