Ashley Judd Shares an Update and Recovery Photos After ‘Shattering’ Her Leg

Ashley Judd Shares an Update and Recovery Photos After ‘Shattering’ Her Leg

by Sue Jones
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Ashley Judd is on the mend two-and-a-half months after suffering a severe leg injury and a harrowing medical emergency abroad. Judd made an Instagram post sharing the progress she’s made since February when the actor and activist broke her leg in four places after tripping over a fallen tree during a trip in the Congolese jungle. “I am getting back up,” Judd writes in the caption, alongside a series of snapshots documenting her lengthy recovery process.

Judd shared photos and a video of her doing physical rehab exercises, trying very hard to bend her knee, which shows the extent of the injury to her right leg. Her leg also has two large scars wrapping from her outer knee down her calf and shin. “With the kind of injury I (& many others) have, we speak of degrees. In the video, 109 degrees was an outrageous dream, & trying to reach it was agony,” she explains. “I did 60 of those heel slides a day. I sobbed through them. I made it because of the loving exhortation and validation of my many friends.” 

Judd shared several indications that her recovery is now looking very good. For instance, she recently hit a milestone in her knee mobility and expects to be walking again soon. “Yesterday, I effortlessly reached the benchmark of 130 degrees. I can nearly reach my knee as you see in one picture. My feet can rest almost parallel. The knee is coming along, the four fractures healing.” She continued, “Come June, I will walk with a brace and a cane.”

But the nerve injury Judd sustained will take longer to heal—it could require “at least a year,” she said in the post. She damaged her peroneal nerve, which provides sensation to the front and side of the leg and to the top of the foot, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It also controls the leg muscles that help lift the ankle and toes. An injury to this nerve can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness. “I concentrate hard at moving my very still foot,” Judd wrote, adding that she appreciates her sister’s “medical-grade massages, which remind my brain that I do have a right foot.” 

In spite of what she’s been through, Judd has an incredibly optimistic attitude. She shared a couple of inspirational quotes and photos from her trip to the Congo and her recovery period, as well as the trips she’s looking forward to making when she’s recovered enough to travel. “Look out, Patagonia, because when that nerve heals, you’ll be seeing me,” she wrote, noting the Patagonia guidebook she’s holding in one photo. 

Judd also plans to soon return to the site of her accident: the Congolese rain forest she has visited many times over the years to study the endangered bonobo. Judd was first treated at a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, where doctors stabilized her damaged leg until the tissue swelling went down and gave her a blood transfusion, she previously shared on Instagram. She was later transferred to a hospital in the U.S. There she underwent an eight-hour surgery, during which doctors repaired the bone, decompressed the hemorrhaging nerve, and “pick[ed]” the bone shards out of the nerve.

In her first Instagram post sharing what happened, Judd credited the Congolese people with saving her life. “Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg,” she wrote in February, recounting how her rescuers carried her through the forest on a hammock for three hours (while she held part of her “shattered” leg) and drove her on a six-hour motorbike trip. “I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life-giving and spirit-salving during my grueling 55-hour odyssey.”


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