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Brooke Shields opened up about how she broke her femur in a “freak accident.”
The 55-year-old model and actress told Today that she “snapped” her femur after falling off a balance board.
Since the accident, Shields has documented her physical therapy and recovery on Instagram.
On February 21, Brooke Shields revealed she broke her femur in a freak accident, and over the last month, the 55-year-old model and actress has slowly shared details of how the injury occurred.
“I was on one of those balance boards that I have been doing every day,” she said in an interview on Today with Hoda & Jenna. “It was just something that I like to do. I’ve done it on Instagram and I stupidly switched my focus and I flew up in the air and just hit perfectly and snapped my femur.”
Your femur is another name for your thighbone. It’s the longest, strongest bone in your body, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). The long, straight part of your femur is called the femoral shaft. Any time there is a break along this part of your femur (which is rare because the bone is so strong), it’s called a femoral shaft fracture.
Shields shared the news of her injury on Instagram, along with a video that showed her using crutches to try to walk. “Beginning to mend. No matter what your challenge is, make a positive choice, for yourself, to move forward. #BeginningisNow,” she wrote in the caption.
The video shows the actress in a hospital gown and socks using crutches to slowly walk down what appears to be a hospital hallway. “There’s only 20% weight,” she said in the video, of her leg. “The goal is to bend your knee each time like, a little bit, just so you’re not dragging it or hitching up your hip.”
A broken or fractured femur usually needs surgery called an open reduction internal fixation to correct it, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. During surgery, the doctor will used metal devices called internal fixators to hold your bones in place. Most of the time, a surgeon will insert a rod or large nail into the center of the bone to help support it until it heals. The surgeon might also put a plate next to the bone that’s attached by screws. Usually, the rods and plates that are used to help your bone heal won’t need to be removed with another surgery.
Shields was unlucky in that she had to undergo two separate operations—one to insert two rods “from the top of my hip down, and another across into the hip socket,” she told People, and another to add five more rods and a metal plate to anchor it all in place.
Rehab from a femur break can take a long time—anywhere from four to six months, depending on how severe the fracture is and whether your nerves and blood vessels were damaged. And to make matters worse, two and a half weeks into Shields’ recovery, she got a serious staph infection that required blood transfusions.
“At first they feared it might be MRSA,” a type of infection resistant to antibiotics, she explained to People. “Thank God it wasn’t. If it had been, my doctor said it would have been a race against time. That’s how you can become septic. It seemed unthinkable.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only leg issue Shields has struggled with in the past few years: She also had a partial knee replacement in 2018. “I never thought I’d have knee problems, and I’ve got nothing but knee problems,” she told Prevention.com at the time. Before her surgery, Shields said her knee function got progressively worse over the years.
After her knee replacement, Shields gained a new appreciation for fitness, which has motivated her latest recovery journey. She definitely looks jazzed to be walking again in the video, and she tells Prevention.com that she’s grateful for staying active prior to her injury. “I’m thankful that after this weird freak accident I was in good shape, because that’s really come to my aid at this time,” she says. “I’m glad I’ve been conscientious my whole life because I’m not behind the 8-ball now.”
Since the initial fall, she’s posted a few other snapshots that document her progress on Instagram including a clip of her trying stairs and some photos from her hospital stay as a #FlashbackFriday. “I’ve come a long way since this,” she captioned the latter post. “But the journey is just beginning 💫,”
After all, “accidents happen,” she tells Prevention.com, and the best she can do is take recovery “one day at a time.”
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