Atlanta, GA,
10:30 AM

One Day at a Time

After an accident led to the discovery of a spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM), seventeen-year-old Angel Taylor is working hard to get stronger.

Angel Taylor lives with her grandparents and siblings in Hazlehurst, a small town in southeast Georgia. She’s a junior in high school, where she’s in the color guard, and she loves spending time outside. When she goes to college, she’s determined to study to be a game warden.

I love animals and want to protect wildlife and the environment,” she explains.

When Angel was 15, she was in an accident while riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). While she felt fine initially, after a few months, she began limping and couldn’t bend her left leg. Then she started having difficulty lifting her foot.

That’s when she learned she had a spinal arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a tangle of blood vessels in the spinal cord that can cause permanent damage. Doctors told Angel she might have been born with the AVM, and the ATV accident caused it to rupture slowly, leading to muscle weakness. Based on the severity of the AVM, they were surprised she survived.

In September 2021, in a 10-hour surgery, her doctor removed the AVM, but Angel had no feeling from her neck down when she woke. Within a week, she regained feeling in her hands and arms. When she was discharged from the hospital, she started rehabilitation at the Adolescent Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Shepherd Center.

While at Shepherd, Angel regained movement in her feet and legs. She worked to strengthen her muscles using the Lokomat®, robotics-assisted treadmill training with body-weight support, and then the treadmill.

Angel was the only girl on her team for her first month at Shepherd.

“I was the boss,’’ she jokes. She became close with some of the other patients — and when another girl arrived, they became fast friends and still talk daily.

After four and a half months at Shepherd Center, including inpatient rehabilitation and the Spinal Cord Injury Day Program, Angel returned home. She uses a wheelchair and continues to work on her leg strength.

“I was terrified to go back to school because I was going to be the only one in high school with a wheelchair, and I didn't know how people would treat me. But my team at Shepherd told me that if I sat at home, I had a higher risk of being depressed. So, I got up the courage and went back to school,” she explains.

Angel attends physical therapy four times a week and says she’s getting better every day.

“I went back to color guard, and I spin in the wheelchair. I go to competitions. My goal is to show people that you can still make a positive outcome, even through the negative. Just be you.”


Written by Ruth Underwood

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About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.