Ashley Judd, who experienced multiple traumatic leg injuries earlier this year, has made incredible progress in her recovery after months of rehab.
Judd shared an Instagram post documenting how far she’s come since tripping over a fallen tree in the Congolese jungle in February. The medical emergency, which was potentially life-threatening due to how remote Judd was, left her with a shattered right leg broken in four places and a nerve injury. After extensive surgery and months of physical therapy, Judd is not only walking again but also feeling at home in the Swiss Alps.
“Dear Friends, It is with reverence and quiet awe I offer this update. Today, five months and three weeks after the accident in the Congolese rainforest, I walked again, and in what fashion!” Judd wrote alongside footage of herself hiking through Swiss National Park.
“Stepping in, I felt in my ease, my natural garment of self, at home in my spirit. My leg and foot worked beautifully,” said Judd, who appears to be wearing a brace or cast on her right leg. “I walked up hill on uneven surfaces for an hour confidently and came down carefully and easily. I rested in a meadow on God’s fecund earth for hours.”
Another recent hike in the Alps had Judd “working hard and feeling how much stamina I have to rebuild,” she wrote. “This is the road ahead,” Judd added. But I am up to the daily tasks, as I am even carrying firewood into our Alpine hut!”
Judd said her recovery timeline is far exceeding her and her medical team’s expectations. Judd shared a video of herself drawing out the ABCs (a rehab exercise) with her still partially paralyzed foot to demonstrate how much movement and flexibility she’s regained. “We expected my foot—if ever—to *begin* to move in one year,” Judd wrote. “Now, after crying while trying to spell the ABCs with a paralyzed foot….well, you see!” Judd also included a video of herself struggling to walk through the woods on crutches two months ago, for comparison.
She made a point of shouting out the “many people to thank for helping to make my recovery possible.” She wrote, “I have been loved and understood and helped in my healing.” And Judd thanked the team of doctors that “made a very gutsy decision to decompress my deeply damaged peroneal nerve.”
That includes the trauma orthopedic surgeon that performed an eight-hour operation on her leg (repairing bones and relieving the hemorrhaging nerve in her leg) and the anesthesiologist. The peroneal nerve provides sensation along the top of the foot and front and side of the leg, and controls the leg muscles that help lift the ankles and toes, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. An injury to this nerve can cause difficulty walking properly, weakness, pain, numbness, and tingling, per Johns Hopkins.
She also thanked the physical therapist who provided her with “grueling and compassionate physical therapy” and an acrobatic yoga teacher who worked with her while she was still unable to walk. And the actor acknowledged her personal support system, from the well-wishers who have sent her prayers and notes to her family and partner.
Judd knows that she’ll never have quite the same leg as she did before the accident—and she’s okay with that. “My leg will never be the same,” she wrote. “She is a new leg. And I love her. We are buddies. We have a come a long way and we have a fabulous life ahead.”