Brooke Shields broke her femur and had to relearn how to walk

Brooke Shields
The year hasn’t gotten off to a good foot (no pun intended) for Brooke Shields. Brooke has been painfully recovering from a broken femur that almost cost her the ability to walk again. Brooke accidentally took a tumble at her gym while doing some work on a balance board. Brooke fell off the board and broke her right femur. She had to be rushed to the hospital where she received several blood transfusions and two metal rods (initially) to hold the bone together. Unfortunately, Brooke’s femur was still unstable so she had to endure a second surgery that required her getting five more rods and a plate. And if that wasn’t enough, after spending two weeks in the hospital, Brooke developed a staph infection when she returned home. Brooke had to be readmitted to undergo treatment for her bacterial infection. Brooke said she had to relearn how to walk and her normal attitude of powering through life did not apply for this situation. Below are a few more quotes which Brooke gave to People about what she went through:

“It felt like it was all in slow motion. And then I just started screaming,” says Brooke Shields of her accident at a downtown New York City gym in late January, when she fell off a balance board, flew up in the air and landed with such force that she broke her right femur.

“Sounds came out that I’ve never heard before,” she tells PEOPLE.

Shields, 55, says the injury left her wondering if she’d ever walk again. So when EMTs arrived to place her on a stretcher, “survival kicked in,” she says, “so I kept saying, ‘I can feel my toes’ because I was so afraid I was paralyzed.”

She needed surgery to insert two metal rods, “one from the top of my hip down, and another across into the hip socket,” she explains. But after the broken portion of her right femur popped out, she immediately underwent a second surgery to add five rods and a metal plate to anchor it all in place.

“I never considered myself Zen,” she says, “but I realized with a certain calm that the rest is up to me now.”

After two-and-a-half weeks in the hospital, she went home and developed a very serious staph infection which required her to return for emergency surgery on the IV site where she’d had three blood transfusions.

Rather than once-a-day physical therapy, Shields asked for twice-a-day workouts. But then she realized, “for the first time in my entire life, I thought, ‘I can’t power through this,’ ” she recalls. “I can’t even stand on my leg or go up a step. I need to relearn how to even walk. The feeling of helplessness is shocking.”

[From People]

I used to be a surgical technologist and assisted on many IM Nail (intermedullary rod insertion surgery) and internal fixation surgeries, especially when I lived in NYC. So many women specifically over a certain age (usually over 55-60) would break their femur when they would slip on the icy sidewalks in the winter. Often because of their age their bones were more brittle. What Brooke went through during a pandemic must have been traumatizing and I can definitely understand her fear of being paralyzed. From Brooke’s account it seems she landed hard on her back as well. Hopefully she is receiving the therapy she needs to heal (both emotionally and physically).

I am very happy to hear that Brooke did not develop a MRSA infection because that would have been so dangerous. It is so sad, too, that Brooke had to go through her earlier recovery alone due to COVID protocols. I can’t imagine being afraid that I won’t be able to walk again, going through several surgeries and having the fear of contracting COVID or a MRSA infection without seeing family. It all sounds quite painful but I am happy that she is able to walk. I am also sure that her recovery will be aided by the fact that she is healthy and fit. Watching Brooke struggle to walk up a few stairs in one of her Instagram videos (I added it below) was heartbreaking. However I can see the fighter in her. I like that Brooke said she had to learn not to power through but give herself the space to heal which is a very important distinction. Brooke is a national treasure to us 80s kids and she will always be the girl who wouldn’t let anything get between her and her Calvin’s. I wish Brooke a speedy and full recovery.

Here’s the full interview:

Actress Brooke Shields wearing a Sachin and Babi outfit arrives at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards held at the Brooklyn Museum on June 3, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Image Press Agency)

Event photos are from 2019 and credit: Other photos via Instagram

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25 Responses to “Brooke Shields broke her femur and had to relearn how to walk”

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  1. Sayrah says:

    Dang that’s awful. I rolled my ankle and fell backwards on the treadmill at my gym 2 days ago and I feel bad but this is scary.

    • Fuzzy Crocodile says:

      I fell running when my foot got stuck in a crack on the road. Twisted my ankle pretty bad and was just really shocked by it. (Fall shocked/scared me, limped all the way home, wondered if I’m losing my balance as I age).

      But this is next degree scary. Getting old is hard.

      • Esmom says:

        I get it. I fell running a couple summers ago (I’m 54 now) and I had no excuse of a crack or a bump in the road, I just went down. It was shocking and scary. Both my knees were dripping blood on the 2 mile walk back to my house, it was horrible. I now understand when my mom just fell when she was walking when she was around my age. I thought she must have been careless…but it can just happen.

  2. Darla says:

    Oh that was hard to watch. I couldn’t finish watching her go up the stairs. I’ve broken my humerus and my tibia (2 separate incidents). The humerus was horrific and what a long recovery. At one point I really didn’t believe I’d ever be able to sleep normally again. (I can). The doctor told me the humerus is the 2nd worse break. The very worst? Femur. I’ve been terrified of it since then.

  3. milliemollie says:

    I broke my femur when I was a toddler. I was in the hospital for six weeks and I had to relearn to walk too.
    The thing is I actually just stumbled over something on the ground but I landed badly and ended up with a broken femur

    • lucy2 says:

      That happened to my friend’s son! He wasn’t in the hospital that long, but had basically a body cast.

      I busted my ankle badly a few years ago, and those PT stairs looked all too familiar. I’m so sorry Brooke has been going through this, it sounds brutal, and I wish her a full recovery.

  4. Roo says:

    That was hard to watch and I wish her the best. She seems to have remained a positive person no matter what life throws at her, and I appreciate that.

  5. Esmom says:

    I am flabbergasted that falling off a balance board could cause such horrific damage. It reinforces the fear I have of certain things at the gym like tall box jumps, although I know freak accidents can happen anywhere. I tripped on a mat in gymnastics class when I was 8 and my arm broke in such a way that it was literally twisted like a pretzel, broken clean through in two places. My bones were young, though, so I’m sure that helped the healing process.

    Wishing Brooke continued strength and healing.

  6. FHMom says:

    That all sounds horrifying. I’m Brooke’s age, and you just don’t heal as easily as you did when you were younger. I wish her all the best.

    I have to add, how are people going to the gym? I’m vaccinated, and it still doesn’t feel safe. Maybe I should start going again.

    • MaryContrary says:

      That’s how I felt seeing Ali Wentworth and Mariska Hargitay visiting her and none of them have masks on-yikes.

  7. Harper says:

    I don’t know what a balance board is but now it’s on my list of something not to do. How was this severe of an injury possible? And a staph infection on top of everything. God give her strength and healing; what happened to her sounds awful.

  8. Jo73c says:

    Oya, you seem to have done every type of job there is! Please can I be on your team when the zombies attack?

  9. harla says:

    For years I’ve been struggling hard with chronic back pain, powering through as Brooke said, maybe I need to quit doing that and giving my body and emotions (the pain makes me pretty weepy) the time they need to heal. It’s hard though to get off of the powering through train and step onto the self-compassion platform.

  10. Larelyn says:

    In a car accident five years ago, I broke my left hip socket and both ankles (ejected both taluses, replaced them with sections of fibula, and fused both ankles using metal plates to be unmoveable. I basically no longer have ankle joints). I was in hospitals and care centers for 2 months straight and wheelchair bound for 4 months. Walking physical therapy started when I was able to stand again and lasted for another 8 months. I still have problems with stairs and uneven ground. I totally understand where she is coming from.

    At my last orthopedic appointment, as I was shaking the surgeon’s hand and turning to walk out the door for the very last time, my surgeon revealed that double foot amputation was his his initial order, and he was very glad to see I proved him wrong. Not nearly as glad as I was!

  11. EMc says:

    We were moving into our new home and I was standing on a mattress on the floor. I rolled my ankle off the side, not realizing I was close to the edge, but was too close to the wall so there wasn’t room for my body take the impact of the fall. I came down on the side of my foot and broke my foot.

    I was in shock. A twisted ankle sure, but a broken bone?! I’m 35 but I feel significantly more frail than I did before.

  12. Renee says:

    I have always loved Brooke. I hope she has a full recovery and gets back to her normal. I am sure she has gone through so much with her injury.

    On a side note, is that my Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) lying next to Brooke? Who knew they were friends? This makes me love them both even more.

  13. GreyDayinLA says:

    Hugs to anyone who’s broken their femur! I’m surprised to learn how harrowing the experience is for little kiddos. My partner broke his ahead of our first date playing softball. Like Brooke he had a metal rod inserted, used a walker, shower seat, all that. He said relearning to walk was a humbling experience. I couldn’t imagine how to navigate rehab/PT in a pandemic with all the restrictions. Wishing good health to everyone <3

  14. The lady says:

    I hate to keep making things about me in the comments…but I totally relate from my covid recovery. My legs atrophied and I developed plantar fasciitis and I couldnt stand up from a full sit on the ground without help or go up stairs without taking them one at a time. I had never thought about the weight it bears when standing up off of the couch and walking to the bathroom feels like a real task. I needed my arms to get up off of the toilet. I’m on board with anyone sharing a story that helps people empathize and also not feel alone. I would just randomly cry because of so much time in pain and unprecedented symptoms (mostly the plantar fasciitis) and I felt weak slash stupid and I’m so grateful to have an amazing man in my life who told me I never needed to ask if I could cry. I hope Brooke continues to do well.

    • Hoot says:

      @The lady: I was once told that showing one’s emotions took more strength and courage than keeping everything bottled up inside to appear stoic and in control. (I was usually the latter.) The ability to be vulnerable really does take more courage. Don’t ever equate crying with weakness. This, of course, does not include people who do it to manipulate others. I’ve experienced plantar fasciitis and have much empathy for you. Hoping yours disappears soon.

      As for Brooke, wow. Such an unexpected accident is hard to process mentally. Wishing her a complete recovery. Although her leg may never be the same, with her determination she’ll maximize its healing. I’m looking forward to plate removal from my mid-foot – done for a bone fusion to alleviate severe arthritis pain – which the pandemic delayed. The six weeks of non-weight bearing, followed by slow rehab/walking boot, tested my patience Nth degree. I would bet this injury is making her climb the walls. Hang in there Brooke!

  15. The Recluse says:

    Ouch. She has my complete sympathy and wishes for a complete recover. 9 years apart I fractured the same (left) ankle just tripping, so I feel her pain.

  16. Alex Schuster says:

    I have had twi neck spine surgeries that have failed because I still want to cut off my arms off that’s nerve damaged for you. I live alone now with my three dogs(my real, true and only family I have) I rolled my foot on my shoe and fell so hard broke my metatarsal bone a week after hopping on my good foot while shoeless outside watching my furry kids. I hopped on a broken pipe on the yard that rose up from the ground after all the rain since the yard is sand based it was just there and sliced my foot to almost the bone between my pinky toe and the other toe falling back again. I live in a constant fear to be paralyzed and just keep getting hurt all the time. I am alone by choice or by fear I went through a traumatic marriage and sudden divorce six years ago. I am unable to form a bond with a man and it is super hard to begin friendships as an adult with adults. It is hard to navigate people’s emotions when I am the I am always good type of person and sometimes I just get enough of being agreeable with people I try to get close to and just drift away from drama.. I am easy go with the flow even when life keeps giving me lemons. Somehow something, a force bigger than myself always keeps me afloat. I only wish everyone going through chronic pain which brings despair, all those health difficulties are pretty isolating even when surrounded by people(which it kind of makes things more difficult emotionally because no one can relate eventhough you are loved, your personality changes causing more stress to oneself because you dont want to be radioactive) . Most days I feel grateful that I am not a nuisance to anyone because my ex husband made me feel that way and grateful to feel happy with my own company and my pups. Best awesome weekend to anyone out there that all your health difficulties get better by the comfort of your love one’s

  17. Beth says:

    Oya, you’ve lived the most interesting life!