Union College Gymnaires acrobat Heather Boulais left the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska today, more than seven months after a life-threatening fall.
On January 14, Heather was attaching her aerial silks for a practice session in the Union College gymnasium when she fell nearly 25 feet to the gym floor. She sustained a skull fracture and brain injuries in the fall, and spent time in a medically-induced coma. She underwent several surgeries, and while being treated and undergoing therapy in Nebraska, Heather’s family split their time between a temporary home in Lincoln and their residence in Laguna Niguel, California.
Over the course of Heather’s long recovery, friends, family, and well wishers around the world sent messages of hope and affirmation through the #PrayersForHeather Facebook page. Heather’s parents, Cheryl and Terry Boulais, posted regular progress updates on the page. Prayers for Heather bracelets were created and sent out to those who wanted to keep their support close at hand. Students as far away as Fiji shared photos of themselves wearing the bracelets.
Thursday evening, Heather was finally released from Madonna, a Catholic rehabilitation hospital specializing in sustained injuries and disabling conditions. Video footage from ABC News affiliate KETV showed Heather walking out of the facility with braces on her legs, and with the assistance of two health care providers from the facility. Heather smiled broadly as she walked to a waiting vehicle. Her hair, having been shaved for surgeries, has begun to grow back.
Heather’s rehabilitation regimen included physical and occupational therapies aimed at helping her regain muscle strength and the ability to perform tasks like eating and brushing her teeth.
In April, Heather missed what would have been her final Home Show with the Gymnaires. According to Cheryl Boulais, Heather wrote the girls' routine, choosing the music, and choreographing moves that included all the women on the team.The Gymnaires showed strong support throughout the recovery process, gathering to pray for Heather, and cheering her progress at every step.
The Boulais family will be under one roof again with Heather finally able to walk out of the facility that has cared for her over the past several months. The recovery process continues.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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