Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Accident Changes, Redefines Life


Submitted by Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics

There are several significant birthdays—18, 21, 65, and turning 25 is
one of them. This milestone marks a point when you are really considered
an adult by others, when your career decisions become more serious, and
other life choices (marriage, buying a home, etc.) become more
important. For Abby Segal, her 25th birthday marks a time when her life
was forever altered, but not the way she expected.

It started off as a typical day—teaching at Farmington High School, and
then playing and coaching in a softball tournament. As she was driving
home, she was looking forward to a relaxing evening with family and
friends, but then her life suddenly changed forever.

“The driver of an oncoming car fell asleep and swerved into my lane,”
said Abby. “It was later discovered he had marijuana and several other
narcotics in his system.”

Both were injured in the head-on collision, with the driver suffering a
clean ankle break. He was out of the hospital in a few days, but Abby
was not so lucky. She had many injuries—the most severe was to her left
leg. The lower portion— from her knee down—was almost severed.

“I played softball all through college and in that moment, I was no longer able to stand or walk,” said Abby.

The driver was charged with aggravated bodily harm and driving under the
Influence. Although he fought the charges, he was eventually sentenced
to 90 days in jail and 100 hours of community service. He also was
required to write her an apology, pay some fines, in addition to
attending a victim impact panel and classes through the state of

“He also has to serve three years’ probation and will always be a
felon,” said Abby. “His sentence will be up, but mine is for the rest of
my life.”

Following the accident, Abby spent the next three years undergoing 16
surgeries trying to save her leg. Over this time, she traveled
back and forth to OSF St. Francis Medical Center, recovering from
surgery—which often required staying there over a month, or battling
infections. She also explored orthotic options and became acquainted
with Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics of Peoria (CPO). She
received a leg brace which she hoped would allow her to keep her lower
leg, but eventually a doctor told her she was running out of options and
needed to consider amputation.

“He told me I could be in pain and have surgeries for the rest of my life, or I could move forward,” said Abby.

Abby and her family reluctantly agreed, but understandably had a lot of
questions. They turned to CPO and met certified prosthetist Todd
McAllister who assessed her needs and made recommendations based on her

“I absolutely love Todd,” said Abby. “He explained the process to me and
my family. He was also able to tell me what life with a prosthesis
would be like.”

Todd knows from experience as his wife Suzie is also an amputee as a
result of a car accident. With his encouragement and support from her
family, Abby is now able to do many of the things she never thought she
“I can pick things up, walk upstairs, and stay on my feet all day—things
that I couldn’t do with my walking boot,” said Abby. “I can take my
nephew shopping, to the movies, and pick him up from daycare. I even
started coaching softball.”

With her newfound mobility, Abby has also discovered a platform for
sharing the experience with junior and senior high school students in a
drug and alcohol awareness program. She also serves as a mentor at OSF
for patients who will be getting an amputation or just had one, and
speaks on behalf of crime victims for the state.

As a special education teacher at Dunlap High School, Abby says the
accident has also brought her closer to her students. The class
recognizes she has challenges just like they do and has learned how to
adapt—just like they have.

“I believe they accept me more,” said Abby. “The class recognizes that
our disabilities are not something we want, but something we have, and
that’s OK.”

Transitioning to her new life wasn’t easy, but she’s forever grateful to
the people who have helped her through the process. Because of their
support, she is optimistic about the future.

“I’m blessed to have such great care from OSF and through CPO,” said
Abby. “They have made this process so much easier than it ever could
have been. I’m lucky to have a team of wonderful people look after me
and take care of me at any time.”

CPO has more than 20 locations including offices in Decatur and
Jacksonville. CPO offers innovation in prosthetics, orthotics, and
pedorthics, with compassionate care and attentive customer service. You
can learn more about Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics, as well as
find a directory of all of their locations, at; or call them for more information at 217-619-0069 or 217-883-4960.