“The knee is coming along, the four fractures healing,” the actress said, but added that the nerve damage to her leg will take “at least a year” to repair

By Julie Mazziotta
April 26, 2021 11:40 AM
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Ashley Judd is making major strides in her recovery after she "shattered" her leg in February.

The 53-year-old actress is deep into the rehabilitation process after she fell while hiking in the jungle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, causing her to break her leg in four places and suffer severe nerve damage. On Saturday, Judd shared photos and a video of her leg and the significant scarring from multiple surgeries, explaining that she's working on manipulating her leg in different directions to regain her strength.

"With the kind of injury I (and many others) have, we speak of degrees," she wrote on Instagram. "In the video, 109 degrees was an outrageous dream, and trying to reach it was agony. 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."

Ashley judd
Ashley Judd
| Credit: Ashley judd/ instagram
Ashley judd
Ashley Judd
| Credit: Ashley judd/ instagram

Judd said that she's already made significant progress. "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 Divergent actress said that her knee is "coming along" and the four fractures in her leg are "healing," but her nerve damage will take longer to fix and limits her ability to walk.

Ashley judd
Ashley Judd
| Credit: Ashley judd/ instagram

"The peroneal nerve injury will take at least a year," she said. "I concentrate hard at moving my very still foot (and appreciate my sister's medical-grade massages which remind my brain that I do have a right foot). Come June, I will walk with a brace and a cane."

Judd already has post-injury travel plans in mind, though. She also posted a photo of herself holding up a travel guide to hiking in Patagonia, and said that it's her next goal.

"Look out, Patagonia, because when that nerve heals, you'll be seeing me," she said. "My partner gave me that book for my recent birthday. I believe."

Judd has come a long way since the initial, "incredibly harrowing" accident. After tripping over a fallen tree during a visit to see the endangered bonobos monkeys, it required a "grueling 55-hour" rescue to get her out of the jungle and airlifted to South Africa for her first leg surgery.

"I arrived to them from DRC in terrible shape and my leg had no pulse," Judd said in February. "I desperately needed a blood transfusion. Their sisters (nurses) are exemplary, technically top notch, and they cared for the trauma in my body as well as my soul with equal proficiency."

Judd underwent several operations at Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg before she was flown back to the U.S. in a 22-hour journey that required four different flights. Once in an American hospital, "I had to continue to wait for the tissue damage and swelling to reduce. Eventually I was qualified to have the 8-hour surgery to repair the bones, decompress the hemorrhaging nerve and pick the shards of bones out of the nerve. I am now recovering from surgery," Judd said on Feb. 22.

RELATED VIDEO: Ashley Judd Shares Photos from Her 'Grueling 55-Hour' Rescue After Shattering Her Leg in the Congo

As she recovers, Judd thanked her family for their support and pointed out that she is fortunate to have access to health care.

"Let us always remember those without insurance," she said. "Let us remember those who do not have choices. Let us remember those who are lonely and afraid."