Model: Rebecca Heins
Right brachial plexus palsy
Clinical psychologist

My 22nd birthday was unlike any other. As a lifelong skier, I opted for a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe to try snowmobiling. A week later, I awoke from a 3-day coma. I had crashed the snowmobile into a tree. I was acutely aware of the bolts, tubes, my tracheotomy, staples in my clavicle, and a wired-shut jaw. My right arm was paralyzed due to brachial plexus palsy. After a month in the hospital, I returned to Los Angeles for recovery. Occupational, physical, and psychotherapy were pivotal in my healing.

I’ve never really viewed myself as having a disability, but rather a different able-ness, finding new ways to maintain independence. However, pregnancy sparked fears about my abilities. Questions like, “How can I lift and care for the baby?” haunted me. With help, self-trust, and determination, I found solutions, as I had for the past 13 years.

As a psychologist, I help others heal from trauma, but my most important role is being a mom. I aim to teach my daughter resilience, strength, and self-love. While she awaits my story, she’ll witness my patient and compassionate approach to life’s challenges, always striving to find beauty in adversity.


Photographer: Nancy Kaye