There was still snow on the ground on June 10, 2001 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado when Amanda Armijo and her husband mounted their horses for a familiar ride. Amanda’s black and white painted horse, Matisse, stumbled in the deep snow and fell down a slope, pinning her between a tree and his massive 1,500 pound body. She knew she wasn’t paralyzed, but she couldn’t move.
Cell phones were useless in this remote location, so Amanda’s husband went for help. Rescuers took the wrong trail and most were stricken with altitude sickness. Helicopters in the area already were dispatched to a nearby fire, and because of the elevation and rough terrain, would not have been able to air-lift her safely. Being in a national park, motorized vehicles were prohibited, further delaying her rescue.
A local hiker, who happened to be a nurse practitioner, found Amanda and administered first-aid. Her stranger-than-fiction tale finally came to an end nine hours later when she was removed from the park on a one-wheel cart and taken by ambulance to a Durango hospital. It was there she learned that her right hip was both fractured and dislocated.
After being flown to another hospital in Denver, Amanda’s doctors discouraged her from getting a full hip replacement. Instead, they inserted two screws in her hip. She spent the next eight weeks completely immobile and in great pain. Having led an active lifestyle since childhood, she now was reduced to just a spectator. She endured the pain of stiffness and arthritis for five years until the Armijo family moved to Arizona and met Dr. Stuart Kozinn, Chief of Surgery at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center.
“Dr. Kozinn suggested an all titanium hip replacement. He was extremely honest about what he could do for me. He considered my active lifestyle when he altered the device by several millimeters to allow for more mobility. The physical therapy after the surgery was amazingly easy. I was taking the stairs in five days and back to my power yoga class in only four weeks!”
Coming from a long line of Olympic swimmers, it didn’t take long for the 45 year-old to dive back in the pool. She currently is coaching her daughter Ivy’s swim team, “Swim Neptune,” and enjoys all of the activities she loved before the accident – including horseback riding.
When asked what advice she would give someone in a similar situation, she said, “You don’t need to live in pain. One short month after your hip replacement surgery, you can have a new life. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.” She smiled and winked when she said, “Thanks to Dr. Kozinn and the staff at Scottsdale Healthcare, I’m a much nicer person!”