Brooke Shields Feared She’d Never Walk Again After Breaking Her Femur in Terrifying Accident

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Brooke Shields Feared She’d Never Walk Again After Breaking Her Femur in Terrifying Accident
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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 “snappedher 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 few months, the 55-year-old model and actress has slowly shared details of how the injury occurred. Most recently, she told Good Morning America that she feared she would never walk again.

“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.

In her GMA interview, she described the fall’s impact. “I flew up in the air with such force, and I landed so heavy and so hard and with such musculature and such velocity and such height,” Shields said, adding that she nearly hit her head on a weight bench. “The only thing I could keep saying was that I could feel my toes because I just knew that I couldn’t move, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t paralyzed.”

She doesn’t remember hearing anything except the sound of her screams. “I’ve never screamed like that,” she recalled. “I mean, not even in childbirth.”

Shields initially shared the news of her injury on Instagram, along with a video that showed her using crutches to try to walk. “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.”

All of the complications landed her in the hospital for weeks at a time, and it sincerely terrified her. “Once fear crept in, that’s when I started to falter,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more afraid because I was helpless.”

But she had to stay strong for her family, especially her two teenage daughters. “My kids actually asked me if they thought I was going to die,” she added.

However, over the last four months, she’s made immense strides in recovery and is now able to call the experience “almost the biggest blessing to date” because it made her realize what a fighter she is. “It won’t make you as much as it will reveal you because you see who you are,” she told GMA. “You see what you’re made up of.”

Since the initial fall, she’s posted a few 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 💫,”

She’s been incredibly diligent about doing physical therapy every weekday, as well as “osteopath work,” massage, and infrared sauna, per GMA. She achieved her most recent recovery milestone by getting down the stairs at home without help.

“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,” Shields tells Prevention.com. “I’m glad I’ve been conscientious my whole life because I’m not behind the 8-ball now.”

After all, “accidents happen,” she says, and the best she can do is take recovery “one day at a time.”

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