Gaining strength back after severe cut

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People in KELOLAND are welcoming the warm temperatures and saying goodbye to the winter weather woes. 

But for a local woman, the effects of winter left a lasting effect.

In February of 2018 SDSU student Emily Ziemer was on her way back to her dorm carrying a flower arrangement she made for class. She slipped on an icy path, taking the glass vase down with her. 

“I kind of fell forward and the vase broke into my hand and I cut five tendons and seven nerves,” Zeimer said. 

Zeimer was in shock and had no idea how serious the injury actually was. 

“Even in the ER like, I hadn’t called my mom yet and I was like should I call my mom? And she was like yea, you should call your mom,” Zeimer said. 

“These white tendons structures are the tendons she cut, she cut basically right across here,” Dr. David Jones said. 

Jones says it can take nerves up to a year and sometimes longer to fully heal. It happened to Zeimer’s dominant hand, which made everyday tasks difficult. 

“They told me a lot like I was never going to have full function, I was never going to have this much use of my hand. And for a long time I didn’t.” Zeimer said. 

Emily underwent two surgeries and attended occupational therapy for about five months to regain the range of motion in her hand. 

After Zeimer’s first surgery doctors discovered pieces of glass lodged inside her hand. 

“I remember they told me right away after my surgery like, the surgery is really important and without having the surgery your hand is not going to be better but without doing the therapy the surgery is not going to mean anything,” Zeimer said. 

Occupational therapist Leslie Cleveringa specializes in hand therapy, and says Zeimer’s injury is close to being the worst she’s seen.

“She pretty much nicked just about everything, soft tissue wise of what you have under there. So, just kind of short of the arteries and things like that too,” Cleveringa said. 

She says Zeimer’s dedication to therapy is one of the reasons her recovery has gone so well. 

“Patients can usually make or break their outcomes,” Cleveringa said. 

Since completing her therapy, Zeimer is thankful to be able to do even the simplest of jobs. 

“I had always had bad handwriting, and it’s worse, but I can still write and you can read it,” Zeimer said. 

Zeimer hopes to become an Ag teacher in the future, and is thankful her injury won’t hold her back. 

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