Marie-Josée Beauchamp

A team effort helped me regain my independence

With the help of the IRGLM’S specialists, I overcame a quadruple amputation

Today, the REA Foundation needs you to help people during their rehabilitation following an accident, illness, etc.

In the summer of 2017, when I was 36 years old, my life changed due to a group A streptococcal infection (flesh-eating disease). My hands and feet had to be amputated. After my brush with death, over a week in a coma and an extremely difficult hospital stay, I arrived at the Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal (IRGLM) in a poor physical and emotional state.

But from the moment I got there, I was surrounded by a reassuring team. I met all the people I’d be working with in the weeks to come: physicians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, prosthetists, etc.
The way they greeted me, their warmth and their compassion, all of this was so encouraging, even though I was barely aware of what was happening amidst the fog of my pain medication and of the overwhelming situation.

Encouragement and inspiration
The future would bring me hope. Early on in my stay, prosthetist Josée Dubois made a very meaningful and inspiring gesture. She introduced me to a man who had had a quadruple amputation many years before. I learned that he was living alone and was autonomous, that he went hiking, drove his car, among other things. I realized that all of this was within my grasp and that I could aspire to regaining some degree of independence.

“I gained confidence through movements that would have otherwise seemed impossible to me.”

Marie-Josée Beauchamp

Another determining factor was that I was always surrounded. This constant presence brought me peace and gave me confidence. Since I had no control of my body, the experts at the IRGLM kept encouraging me to regain that control. For instance, physiotherapist Danielle Petitclerc worked with me every day. The training was designed to get me to walk again. I started with exercises on all fours, then on my knees, to strengthen my trunk.

In terms of my progress, prosthetist Josée Dubois was always a close ally. Among other things, she made the moulds and made my prostheses, and designed an adapted walker for me. This allowed me to stand up less than a year after my amputations. Josée continues to make adjustments to my various tools and devices to make sure that they are as efficient and comfortable as possible. Occupational therapists Julie Comtois and Marie-Hélène Forest gave me many tips to help me with personal hygiene, getting dressed and using my upper limb prostheses with agility.

I also benefited from the invaluable assistance of a specialized educator at the Centre Lucie-Bruneau who assessed my ability to drive a car. Simple devices were then made for me (handle, adaptor, extension), so all I have to do now is install them on the car I’m driving and I can get behind the wheel.

“I was touched by the IRGLM‘s constant efforts to adopt a personalized approach.”

Renewed strength, endurance and balance
As I regained my strength, the exercises increased in intensity. For example, physiotherapist Laura Casu accompanied me on long walks to develop my endurance. She also made me work on improving my balance, going up and down stairs with greater ease, etc. Marianne Ruel, also a physiotherapist, walked with me when I was able to—successfully—put on a pair of snowshoes to go out and enjoy a winter activity. She also accompanied me on the subway, to the grocery store, etc. This gave me confidence to resume these daily activities on my own.

Kinesiologist Anne-Marie Beaupré suggested that I participate in the dance classes given at the IRGLM. Not only did I improve my endurance and balance, but I gained confidence through movements that would have otherwise seemed impossible to me.

“Expertise, profound commitment and incredible patience.”

Supporting our caregivers
There’s no question that I would not be where I am today without the IRGLM. I could feel that the people there don’t consider their work an occupation, but rather, a vocation. They all demonstrated expertise, profound commitment and incredible patience.

Today, I am at peace, I love my life, and I’m very proud of everything I accomplished. I’m also proud of my prostheses and I even enjoy showing them to people and explaining how they work.

I encourage you to support the REA Foundation, a hospital foundation that lends support to the Institut universitaire sur la réadaptation en déficience physique de Montréal.

Today, your donation enables hundreds of people to receive direct financial assistance through the Beneficiaries Assistance Fund for Users, high-quality care, professional coaching and the support of dedicated specialists.

Marie-Josée Beauchamp, 41 years old