Aimee Copeland aims for independence in rehab from flesh-eating bacteria

7:51 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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Aimee Copeland in an undated photo before she was released from a Ga. hospital where she's been recovering from necrotizing fasciitis. (Credit: AP)

 


 


(CBS News) Aimee Copeland, the Ga. woman whose battle back from flesh-eating bacteria has inspired many, is making progress in her rehabilitation, according to her father.

Andy Copeland, who has been updating the public on his daughter's condition through a blog, wrote in a July 29 update that in each physical therapy session, his daughter completes 400 leg lifts in seven minutes, 200 crunches in seven minutes - every 10 of which she's required to say a complete sentence - in addition to pushups and planks.

"How many of you can do two hundred crunches in seven minutes?" asked Andy in the blog.

Copeland, 24, has been rehabilitating at an Atlanta facility following a two-month battle with the flesh-eating infection necrotizing fasciitis that she got after a May 1 zip-lining accident in which she suffered a deep cut. Once it enters the body, the bacteria causes toxins to cut off blood flow, destroying muscle, fat and skin tissues as it spreads. Doctors were forced to amputate Aimee's left leg, right foot and both hands as she fought for her life against the infection.

Andy now writes that the workouts are meant to strengthen Aimee's body to the point where she can shift her weight and maneuver herself in and out of chairs. Eventually doctors hope to fit her with prosthetic limbs.

Aimee wants to avoid being physically dependent on her family, her dad says, as evidenced by her reaction when he considered purchasing a van with a wheelchair lift.

"No way! I am not going to be chauffeured around town like a handicapped person," Aimee said, according to her dad.

She wants to drive herself around in her own car and accomplish anything she wants to despite lacking her hands or feet, which her dad calls "inconveniences" in the blog.

"She is learning to work around these inconveniences and she is determined that she will prevail," Andy wrote. "Who am I to tell her any different? Needless to say, the van ain't happening."

Earlier this month, her family announced that volunteer contractors would design and build a two-story wing for Aimee at the family's suburban Atlanta home that contains a fitness room, elevator and new bedroom.

Andy wrote that volunteer workers are so moved by Aimee's story, that they consistently thank her parents for letting them help. Wrote Andy, "That is extremely humbling."

Andy says he's become a better father from watching his daughter's ordeal, and has learned no one is better to make decisions about her situation than Aimee herself.

"Aimee's focus remains on one thing and one thing only: not being 'handicapped,' Andy wrote. "If hard work is any indication, I think we can all surmise that she is well on her way toward achieving that goal."

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