Florida mom paralyzed by COVID-19 walks again following rehabilitation at Orlando hospital

A Florida woman who thought she'd never walk again after she contracted COVID-19 and became temporarily paralyzed, recently reunited with her rehabilitation team, where she was able to walk in on her own and unassisted.

Geneva Brier-Daniels, 37, a U.S. Navy veteran and mother of three, woke up unexpectedly unable to move – paralyzed – in September 2021. After initially experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, Brier-Daniels was ultimately diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a rare condition that causes inflammation of the spinal cord, according to a news release.

She went immediately to the hospital where she was admitted to Orlando Health's Orlando Regional Medical Center.

"I’m a ‘go, go, go’ type person. [I’m] up before the kids, go to sleep way after, always juggling a couple side jobs. It halted my life dramatically," Brier-Daniels said in a statement.

Photo via Orlando Health

For the last year, Brier-Daniels has worked with rehabilitation teams at Orlando Health's ORMC Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation with one goal – to try and walk again.

"Geneva would ask me every day, ‘Crissy, am I going to walk again,’" said Orlando Health physical therapy clinical specialist Crissy Voigtmann in a statement. "I’m always pushing and hoping for the best. She had all the indications that she would start walking again but we didn’t know what that would look like."

How COVID caused such a serious conditition is not really known.

"The reasons we develop it are basically unknown," said Dr. Barinder Mahal, a physician with the Orlando Health Neuroscience and Rehabilitation Institute. "The suspected cause in her case was COVID so we didn’t have a lot of data to see how patients would do over time."

Recently, Brier-Daniels, with the slight assist of a cane, walked back into ORMC to reunite with her rehabilitation team and join other patients who've been treated for spinal cord injuries.

"This is hard but thankfully they know what they’re doing. Every week there’s something new. I’m progressing in some way. This is not the end for me by any means. I have the cane, which I’m grateful for, but I’m hoping to return to my old self soon," she said.