Spine Associates - Back to Normal

Patient Spotlight on Rachel Odem

Traumatic Burst Fracture



It was on May 26, 2009 that Donna Odem’s phone rang only to receive a call every mother dreads.  Her daughter, Rachel Odem, had suffered a tragic accident.  She had fallen off a 25 foot cliff while trying to rope swing into a river.  Rachel was life flighted to a hospital in Waco, Texas and told that she had a spinal cord compression of over 60% and heard the devastating words, “Change your lifestyle, you will probably be confined to a wheelchair”.  

Rachel was unable to move from the waist down and the doctors told her that surgery was not an option since they didn’t feel it would help.  The Odem family’s life had been turned upside down but Donna refused to accept the doctors’ words.  She kept searching and looking for other options or a physician that could give her and her family hope.  That is when her mother was given information about Spine Associates and Dr. Richard Francis from a previous patient of his. After further research, Donna was convinced that he was the doctor they were looking for. Her exact words, “We found our hero, Richard Francis, MD”.

By then it had been a stressful eight days since the accident and they had Rachel transported to Houston where Dr. Francis rushed her into surgery and was able to repair Rachel’s injury.  The family anxiously awaited news about their daughter and Donna recalls the relief she felt when she heard him say that, “Rachel would indeed walk again!”  

It has been seven years since Rachel’s surgery and her and her family are still thankful that Rachel was able to not only make a complete recovery, but did so in under a year. They give all the credit to having Dr. Francis and the Spine Associates team by her side every step of the way. 

Since the surgery Rachel has gone on to win 1st runner up for Miss Rodeo Texas and will be getting married this year. When asked what she thinks about Dr. Francis she says, “He is an outstanding doctor with skills and expertise I have never known. We are very blessed to know him! We will always love him!”  Rachel is not only Back to Normal, but she is back to walking.


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