Radloff begins rehab after breaking neck

In this 2004 file photo, Louise Radloff speaks to the Daily Post prior to Louise Radloff Middle School will opening on August 9 that year.

In this 2004 file photo, Louise Radloff speaks to the Daily Post prior to Louise Radloff Middle School will opening on August 9 that year.

DULUTH — As a healthy person who is very active, the last six days have been extremely difficult for Louise Radloff.

But the next step in her recovery from a broken neck began on Tuesday when she was transferred to Glancy Rehabilitation Center in Duluth to begin rehab.

“She’s going to be going through a lot,” said Gregg Radloff, the middle son of the school board member, who broke her neck in a fall last week. “It’s not like you sit there and wait until you’re healed. (Her recovery) is based on her effort she puts into rehab. If she puts her effort (into it), things could move along pretty quick. She doesn’t play.”

A long-time member of the Gwinnett County Board of Education, Radloff, 78, suffered the broken neck — a fractured C1 and C2 vertebrae — on Wednesday while she was picking up bread at a bakery in the Peachtree Corners area to be delivered to a food co-op. She missed a step and fell off a loading dock and suffered a blow to the head, her son recounted. Stunned, she didn’t want to be transported to a hospital, but two men helping her insisted, and paramedics soon arrived.

She was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth, and walked in under her own power with what she thought was a sore neck, Gregg Radloff said.

After X-rays were performed, Gregg Radloff said everyone learned there was a significant problem, that it could be paralysis, or worse, and he said everyone went into “high alert.” The first good news came when doctors discovered Louise Radloff didn’t suffer paralysis, and the next came after she recovered well from a surgery on Thursday at GMC-Lawrenceville.

Along the way, her three sons, five grandchildren and several close friends have been there for support, and Gregg Radloff praised the staff at GMC for their sense of urgency and professionalism.

The community response has been humbling, he said, and his mother is very thankful for cards and flowers at home and at the hospital. Several students and teachers wrote handmade cards, which he called “really, really touching.”

“We ran out of shelf space pretty quick,” he said.

Active in several nonprofit and public agency boards around Gwinnett, Gregg Radloff said he can’t remember his mother being this still.

“She’s been going for years, decades,” he said. “It’s a huge change for her.”

Gregg Radloff said he’s not sure how long her rehab may be, but for the time being, she won’t be able to drive. In the mean time, she’s asked him to let people know she won’t make a meeting or appointment. But she’s considered using Skype to join some meetings.

“I expect her as soon as possible to get back into an active schedule,” Gregg Radloff said. “There’s not much that can keep my Mom down.”

Radloff was re-elected to her 11th term on the Gwinnett County BOE in November. In January, Radloff marked her 40th year on the local school board. Her length of service is the second longest number of terms consecutively served by a member of any board of education in the state of Georgia.