Stories of Physical Therapy and Relearning to Walk
The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury. Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
Chris states that she was in the hospital 3 days short of a year. She was in 3 different hospitals and had physical, occupational for her hand and speech therapy during her stays.
“At Sacred Heart she was at the combative stage. She was aware of what was going on, she just couldn’t speak. Couldn’t take care of herself, she was very combative. But they weren’t, she was not progressing fast enough for them, her speech, her occupational, her physical therapy. It, she was just not progressing fast enough for them to keep her there. At Clearview, she worked with a neuropsychologist, a speech pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and a vocational therapist./ “Every weekend when we went there. It was like she worked hard with them all week and we drilled her on the weekend.”
Chris was at Clearview for seven to eight months. That she wasn’t just dumped into a nursing home made the difference in: Her walking, talking, understanding, her reasoning, her physical appearance everything.
Nothing really changed as far as her coming home and her routine. She got up at 6:30 in the morning and went to her physical therapies, speech therapies before she went to school.
DJ explains his first memories from Healthsouth in Melbourne: “I remember the physical therapist, she was a pretty girl. I remember her telling me something that was very important and I still use to this day.”
What appear to be the most lasting impact of Doug’s injuries are his physical limitations. He walks very slowly, with a cane and has to pull his left side along with him when he walks. “My left side of the body was affected because of the brain injury and also because I broke both my legs, they had to – they, they thought I might lose the right leg at first, because they had to – because I have a skin graft on the right leg. They had to put a skin graft on the right leg so they thought I might lose the right leg at first. And then they also had to reattach the – let’s see, which finger is it now? Yeah, right index finger they had to reattach because I lost it in the accident. It’s straight, but I can’t bend it the best.” As a result of the severely broken legs, therapy wasn’t able to start addressing walking as early as would have been best for Doug. Doug states: “I think I had to wait longer because they usually started with doing different type of exercises, routine things to try to get you to, you know – I’m trying to think how I had to do this. Like, steps over and over and over to do things and then once you get to do all these steps and then you – they build it into how you need to – build it into walking.
At Clearview, I was there for 13 months and I got a, pretty much got therapy there, therapy 6 days a week and they really worked, really worked on me getting better. Yeah, got me walking a lot better.
Our philosophy is to ensure the best outcome after a TBI, the post morbid plan has to simulate the growth in behavior and maturity that we experience as children and young adults. The concept is easy to grasp in the context of speech pathology and physical therapy in the inpatient setting. Many severe TBI survivors have to relearn to both walk and talk, as if they were children again. When you apply that principle to long term improvement in the community, one must start from the realization that the frontal lobes are the slowest part of our brains to develop. Much of the neural networks that govern mood, executive functioning and maturity continue to develop well into our 20’s. If one is doubtful of that statement, think how you or your children behaved differently at 25 than at 18.
Doug’s biggest problems from the MVA are his physical limitations, resulting from injuries to his body and brain. He had two broken legs, a badly injured right leg which he almost lost, and a finger on his right hand which was severed and then re-attached; difficulties with walking and impaired functioning on the left side of his body are the result of the brain injury. Physical therapy would typically have started earlier, but was delayed due to time needed for his broken legs to heal before physical therapy could begin. The brain injury complicated therapy and recovery since Doug had to re-learn how to walk again, much as if he were a young child taking steps for the first time. Doug talks about his recovery as being both joyful and sad: joyful in the fact that progress is made towards recovery, sad because the process takes so long.
Elizabeth states; “I had to go for physical therapy too to be able to walk up and down stairs, to be able to move my arms, move my legs, be able to walk without the dizziness hitting me too much and falling, slipping or falling or hitting again, hitting my head again.”
She got balance therapy after her first injury, consisting of: “What they had me do is with the physical therapist and you know how you lift weights and squatting and standing up straight, and so the things they were helping me learn all over again that really helped me and I was good at it, and so I knew what would make me dizzy and what I should not even try to do, and that’s what helped.”The dizziness and balance problems persist to this day; “The biggest problem I have is the dizziness because I’ve, doing everything I can do, and the dizziness can be good. It can make it up to six months without a problem or anything and all of a sudden it snaps and it’s kind of like, I, and it’s not fear, and I know I’m not going to get what word it should be or â€“ I don’t think it’s anxiety but it’s doing something that you normally do every day and it hasn’t appened in how long and all of a sudden I, that’s when I snap and I lose it. I don’t understand it so I get frustrated. I yell. I cry. I’m scared but like you said it’s like an eighth grader. I can’t, I can’t connect.”
Fred had a severely broken Femur caused by the accident and states the difficulty on beginning to walk after the injury; “I remember being in a wheelchair. I didn’t have to relearn to walk. I had to, they were big about me not walking, so when I had the chance to walk and then I, I had a walker to use, so it made walking a lot easier. They didn’t want me to put pressure on my leg because the doctors said that it was such a, he’s never seen a break that bad before, so he wanted to make sure it healed.”
He isn’t quite back yet, but he is getting close. While at Norwood Rehabilitation, he got physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. He explains: “They have everybody on physical therapy that’s at the Norwood, and I think it has something to do with, because we’re all, everyone that has a brain injury I believe is hospitalized for a period of time to where they’re not mobile, so the physical therapy is to get you back into shape. He remembers most of that physical therapy. In addition to his leg, he has some problems with the right side of his body.There’s a, the right side of my body has, is, it’s not nerve dead or anything, or completely numb, but the nerves don’t, aren’t the same. They, it’s like one side it feels the same and the other side doesn’t feel as the same. I actually haven’t told anybody really about it and I just do my normal exercises and just do things and it’s been coming back as much as it will. His mother states that once they moved him to Norwood Rehabilitation hospital they set up a routine for him on a daily basis; “They ran him through his physical therapy, his occupational all his therapies.”
She got speech, physical and occupational therapy while she was there. She explains: “Mainly I know addition, subtraction, just a lot of flash cards, a lot of reading and comprehending and going back, a lot of writing. They wanted me to write with, I’m right-handed and they wanted me to right with both hands. I didn’t understand why they were forcing me to write a lot of stuff with my left hand because I, I guess I was coming in and out of it. I, I was fighting a lot of it, just making them, why do you have to do this? They did some physical therapy.”
Helena starts to talk about her therapies; “First of all this happened, because, because it happened before Christmas, I spent Christmas in the hospital, and the rehab part, you had to, I had to interact with other people; we ate our meals in a commons room, and that’s when I started some physical therapy and some evaluations for occupational therapy, to see what my cognitive deficits might be.”(The physical therapy was for) my left clavicle and vertebrae high up in my neck. So I was in a collar, and they didn’t do much in terms of neck and back stuff, but I had very poor balance. At first I couldn’t walk and then eventually I could walk very wobbly with a walker.
Like most severe brain injury survivors, she did some physical, occupational and speech therapy. She explains; “In physical therapy, and I think I had that three times a week for a month or so, that was still walking up and down the stairs and pushing things with my legs, trying to balance on a balance wheel and throw basketballs at the same time, and I said, I never could’ve done that anyway, why are you torturing me this way? No. 1 the nurses, when I was in the hospital, were the most fantastic part of my recovery, and then after I got out of the hospital, the physical therapists. They really cared about how I was doing, and one day I got so nauseated doing something so they, they called my neurosurgeon to make sure that I wasn’t having some sort of reaction.”
Ian states; “(The physical therapy) had more to do with my arms and leg. To this day, the right side of my body is in pain. That is from my head injury, because I had, the lump was on the left side of my head. And most people know that the left side of the brain controls the right side and the right side controls the left side.” Ian’s friend took him to therapy and explains “They were doing stretches with his legs mostly. His whole right side had to be retrained. He had some pressures on his left side. When they finally let him go home and I was taking him back to rehab as an outpatient, he was getting around but very, very slowly. So they were really trying to help him to be more independent again, get him off the cane and all that. He didn’t complain about what he had to do. I didn’t hear him screaming because they stretched him or whatever, you know, he just, he just did it.When he first walked I actually, second time that he walked I got him on video and this he had a nurse on each side. He walked from what you might call the waiting room but the nurse’s desk in the front and he would be like maybe three or four doors down. So he would walk from where he sat there all the way and they would help him up but he walked with his own legs and he was smiling some of it because he was getting around. Some of it he was getting tired and I’d say come on just a little more, a little more, you know. But it was good to see him at least starting to get around.
Gordon Johnson: When was the last time he had therapy?Mom: Oh I think he was in therapy for maybe six months to maybe a year almost. And once he didn’t have to go to the hospital and, and work with his hands to make them stronger or his brain to remember things and things like this, or just small tasks, he stopped doing them. It isn’t because you can’t do them you just decided maybe you won’t, you won’t really be able to continue unless somebody was there telling you, you have to.
Talk to us about getting back the use of your right arm and your right hand: “Yeah that was what I was going to tell you about at the hospital. that I’d forgot. But see, of course, I couldn’t move it, and what they did to enable me to move it again, and I think they might have did this with both arms, but they would take and lift it, little more each day, and it would really, really intense pain.”
Jeremiah’s clearest memory was of what happened as he was leaving UW hospital. He explains: “Well I can remember things such as how I was being taught to walk, and very good person, but to me he was mean because he actually would, what I remember is, he would drag me up the stairs, and my feet would just be hitting the stairs as I learned to walk up a stairs and such, and yeah that, that’s, that’s probably the main thing. And I, and I can remember going out on a patio, where it was chilly out one time.”
A significant proportion of severe brain injury survivors lose the ability to walk, without an injury to anything outside the skull.Jeremiah told us about learning to walk again as well: “Well when I was out of, let out of the hospital, or some may say forced out of the hospital, I was in a wheelchair and so they then didn’t finish teaching me to walk when I left and, and then they were going to have me meet with somebody at home in my house, which they had taken me to; dragged me up the stairs in my house and said, you know, you’re going to have to go up the stairs to use your bathroom . But anyway we managed to, I don’t know what even happened after that, but anyway then we managed to go to Meriter Hospital, which is very, very nice people. I should say they were very nice people at the UW Hospital, and I really think highly of most of them there. There’s just always these few that, that tend to make problems. So it’s not the whole hospital at all, just a few.Anyway, regarding walking again, I don’t remember the exercises they gave me so much as bits and pieces, I would call them peaks or valleys. I remember I couldn’t be out of bed hardly at all for many, many, well years, and, but when I, but when I, while I was still at Meriter, which were, was for a few months after still, I was using a walker and as I learned to use the walker.
Jeremiah states; “What do you do over that three years so that you can even consider going back to work?; “Well all of my rehab. I mean my rehab was continuous. It didn’t end when my rehab at the hospital ended. My rehab was continuous. Every day exercise, exercise, every day,Of course exercise, exercise for somebody who’s in this condition is not, all day, every, or (even) a few hours a day every day. For me exercise may have been a half of an hour each day. It may have been lying on the chair and try lifting your arm up as high as you can; try next time a little higher and then it floats where you can’t lift it as high. It was just learning to, learning how to coordinate your muscles again.”
Jeremiah has some physical manifestations of his injury. Do you see that hampering him or him improving those things through the music?: “I think so. I think that’s how he learned to move his fingers again with, with the guitar work and I’ve noticed that like his rhythm is, is not right on but I think that that’s improved. I’m sure that when he first started just strumming a guitar, that’s a really hard thing to do for a lot of people and singing to it, like at the same time is difficult. He told me that he couldn’t do that at first and it’s become a little easier, as you go.”
Jeremiah had to relearn to walk, relearn to play the guitar, he also had to relearn language after his severe brain injury. Writing lyrics to songs was as integral to that process as the guitar was to reusing his right arm.
Then as you begin to regain functioning, where do they take you?; ‘They just left me there and had me doing the therapies there.’ This is still in Brackenridge?; ‘Uh huh. They had, they had me working on balance sitting on these big red balls. To this day I hate red balls. I would sit there and try to, you know, get my balance and make sure that I wasn’t off center that I didn’t favor one side or the other. (As) the injury was right side it refers non-movement and problems to the opposite side. So my left side was impacted as, as far as fine mo, fine mo, movement motor skills.’
Kelly talks about how she began to walk and the issues with it: “Very, very dizzy. I didn’t start walking until I got back to Vanderbilt Stallworth. But I know that in Austin I had to go to the restroom, so I got up on my own because I’m a very autonomous person, very independent. Got up on my own, went to the restroom and promptly went splat. Luckily that there was nurse’s button in the restroom. Of course I hit that; here comes the nurse running “what happened, what happened”Â. I said I got up and fell right back down. “Well you’re not supposed to be up and walking.- And, and ever since then that fall, I’m not allowed to do anything for the risk of whatever.” s it while you’re still in Austin they begin to work on therapy with walking?: “Yes.” Tell me about that.: “Well, it really wasn’t walking per se, but it kind of was. We’d walk from a bed to the hall and my balance was off so I’d hold a handrail that goes along most hospital walls. And then we’d walk all the way down the hall until we get to the stairwell. Brackenridge Trauma Center, I was on the third, third or fourth floor. Second floor’s ICU. They moved me up to fourth floor and then down to the third floor, so it was the third, third or fourth; I can’t remember that fine point detail, but I was either on the third or fourth floor when we began attend therapy.”
Did you get any therapy for the balance itself?: “Yes.” Tell us about that.: “Well of course the initial balancing training came in Austin on those big red balls and then in Tennessee it came with a balancing board. I had to roll it around my left foot, put my left foot in and make it move. It was basically a rolling lid. It was a big lid that was on, it didn’t balance itself so the PT would tell me to make it move to the left or make it move to the right, invert my foot, evert my foot, something to actually make that lid roll and that’s what I was able to do.”
Talk to me about your outpatient rehab.: “Well, outpatient rehab consisted of again more speech therapy, more occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Physical therapy kept me more to walking better. I got to teach the physical therapist some new techniques as well. So we’re walking down the hall and the occupational therapist saw me. She says, what are you doing? Why are you not in wheelchair? I said I’m walking with the dinner with my mother. Well of course they were might be afraid that I might fall or something, so, we’re going to see about getting you a quad cane tomorrow. A quad cane is a cane with four pronged legs, and that’s what you would use to stabilize yourself if you got dizzy or something. So sure enough, the next day, they came and they measured me for a quad cane; well that got me out of the wheelchair which was a good thing. Then more training came along to walking with a quad cane and then it came time for me be out-patiented home. The three weeks was up. And then when I came back for outpatient rehabilitation, we went back to walking with that quad cane.”
“And then, we’re walking up by the nurse’s station going back to my room, and neurologist just happens to be standing there. And I’m walking along and PT is, they’re talking to him. And she says Kelly, what is wrong with your hand? I said, it won’t work. It’s just frozen. She said we’ll see about that, and so I keep walking, keep walking, and then she says, I’m going to come get you for more therapy. I said okay. So I get back to my room and then in comes the physical therapist. Said let’s go down to the PT room. Okay, so I walk with my little trusty quad cane down to the PT room, and she lays my hand out, like somebody going to take your blood. Lays my hand down, she puts two electric nodes on my forearm here, and puts a metal rod to something else, and it’s, it’s called internal stimulation or I-Stim. They also have E-Stim which is electric stimulation. And as soon as she hit that, that button with the tube, the rod, my fingers shook. I mean I broke into tears right there. I started crying. Because my hands came open and they didn’t go back closed. And then she says, let’s keep working. She gave me a little ball to start squeezing. When I did my internship, back at Stallworth, I was a recreational
Kevin states: “I picked the walker and I had to learn how to use the walker, because I didn’t want to go back to the wheelchair again. And so I used the walker for a couple of weeks at Mercy, then I had to go to physical therapy and physician and what else, vocational therapy and “”
When iT came to Kevin learning to walk again he was asked: Did you get therapy for it?: “Yes I did. At Mercy I walked between two railings. To help it. And they said it’s probably going to stay there the rest of your life and no medication’s going to help it, or stuff like that.” How many months was it before you were able to walk without a cane or a walker?: “Probably about two months maybe. I didn’t want to use a walker. I’ve used a walker though. I always thought positive, you know and it, like some people get some parts of the brain are injured that other people might not think it was a real minor brain injury.” So before you left Lakeview you were walking without the help of a cane or walker?: “Yes. Yep. And I didn’t want nothing to do with all those.”
the part that resonates the best is his dramatization of relearning to walk.: “And I remember it being hard and frustrating. Kind of embarrassing having to be re-taught how to do things that I knew I should know how to do like walking. Walking technique. Heel, toe, heel toe, heel toe, heel, toe, heel, toe. But I wasn’t doing it right so I had to keep practicing. Heel, toe, heel.”
Lori talks about her therapies: “And then speech pathology is the only therapy that I liked. Because I felt like they treated me like an adult and like they were trying to help me move forward, where I didn’t understand, I thought the others just wanted to, whatever.”
Other than the pleasant memory of being on the ball and giggling, what do you remember of your therapy?: “I remember therapy as an inpatient. I remember physical therapy and speech therapy the most. Physical therapy because my physical therapist was about my age, and we seemed to get along. And so I was able to, I felt that I had, that I had her on my side. So I remember that part of physical therapy.” What physical problems were you having a month after your accident? Were you able to walk?: “My memory is so not good about that. I know, like I said, my first memory in therapy was when I was on a balance ball, and that’s a big, huge ball where you’re trying to balance. And I was laughing, because I felt like a child, because I knew I wasn’t a child, but I couldn’t balance myself on the ball. So I know that I couldn’t walk, but I don’t remember not walking, if that makes sense.”
That means after you got home to your parents, you went back and got a considerable amount of physical therapy, outpatient physical therapy?: “Yes.” What do you remember about that?: “I remember when I was in outpatient therapy I was doing all kinds of physical movements. And at first it didn’t make sense to me, at first it made me mad because, I don’t know – like
they were having me reach for things that were just silly, that I would never reach for anyways. And they would have me stand on one foot, which was silly because I was 25 and I was not going to stand around on one foot, but later Donna, my PT that was about my age that I befriended, she helped me to understand. I don’t know how she did that, but she helped me to understand that I needed to do these silly little things so that I could get back into being an adult.And so she tried to find the best way, the most interesting ways for me, so I remember playing basketball with a bunch of crumpled up paper and throwing it into a wastebasket. I remember being in the parking lot at the hospital, which is where I had outpatient therapy, and Donna had drawn a hopscotch, whatever you call a hopscotch thing, and I remember trying to do hopscotch. I remember being outside with therapy in the hospital parking lot and trying to walk on the, in front of parking, where people park in parking structures there’s often a cement pylon thing and I remember trying to walk on those.
“And I remember, my first memory of not needing to be escorted from the van to the house. The van had driven onto the street of my parents’ home and I said: “Today I want to walk to the house on my own.” And there was a driver and then an assistant or whatever, and they said, “well okay, but we’re going to watch.” And so they, they pulled up in front of the house and I got out of the van and I walked to the house, and for some reason I wanted to open the door by kicking it, like karate kicking it, so I stood and balanced on one leg and tried to karate kick and I fell. That’s my first instance that I
remember, and I remember standing right up and, and saying “I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t come out.”
Let’s talk about your therapy. You were getting therapy at the nursing home in Elizabethtown?: “Yes.” Do you remember any of that?: “Bits and pieces.” What do you remember?: “I remember I used to have to walk. I guess they were the walking bars you had in between you to hold you up.” So let’s first talk about the paralysis and then we’ll talk about the walking.Do you have a memory of when you had profound problems in the left side?: “All I can really remember was my arm was stuck like this and it took a long time for them to be able to get it down.” Do you remember the physical therapy working with your left arm?: “Working with my left arm, yes, because it was very tough for them to get it down.” Talk to me about that therapy.: “Actually for me, that was very painful because for them they had to keep on pulling it down because I would sleep – I still sleep a little bit with this arm up but they had to keep pulling it down to stretch the muscles and that for me was very painful.”
Do you remember relearning to walk?: “Bits and pieces. I remember, like I said, those bars I had to walk through and even after I left Elizabethtown and came up to Louisville and had outpatient therapy, um, even then, um, that was one of the big things and I, I had a really hard time on the steps.” What about relearning to walk? You told us that you remember the parallel bars.: “I remember I had a walker for a while and that, I definitely asked them not to put wheels on it, they put them regularly. And then I went from a walker to a four cane and then I went to a single cane. I still use that off and on, especially on, I’m very sensitive to weather now.”
Mike – Physical Limitations that Come with Severe Brain Injury
https://tbilaw.com/tbivoices/mike-physical-limitations-that-come-with-severe-brain-injury/ Tell me about the physical disability he has right now.: “He needs help walking. He is now right handed after being left handed for 51 years. He wears glasses all the time now. He never wore them before all the time, but he wears glasses all the time so he can see. He needs help getting dressed and bathing and putting his shoe on. He’s got, he had a bad ankle to begin with, but it’s gotten worse because he wasn’t able to use it for the first two months. He’s gotta have special shoes because he’s got a brace on his left foot that has to fit inside of his shoe.”
Tell me about the last 40 days at Saint Vincent’s.: “They had him in the rehab. He got moved to the rehab floor where he had occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and he started to talk, maybe a month after he woke up. He had left neglect really bad where he didn’t focus on the left side of his body at all, you know? He would try to wash himself up and it would just be the right side. He would never go to the left side.” When you say neglect, you’re talking about his entire side of his body?: “Yup, the entire side of his body, like he didn’t have a left side of his body. He had just a right side. They tried to walk him in therapy. He couldn’t even sit up. He really couldn’t do any of that in first 51 days that he was there. They worked really hard to try to get him to do things as far as moving his left side and he didn’t move it at all
when he left there. I actually, I asked the doctor and the doctor’s nurse if they ever thought he would move the left side
and they said no. He probably wouldn’t do it due to the part of the brain that they took out. And I just said that’s,
that’s okay with me and it’s okay with our kids. It would be okay if that was the way it was, we would take him any way that we could have him back.
Mike’s wife talks about his memory: “For the most part it’s all good stuff, normal stuff and he remembers a lot from long term. He remembers long term really good, different places we’d been and he can tell stories about, things that we’ve done and things that go along with what we have done or what we had seen.”He still has an impairment on the left side but he does the best as he can do. He works hard in his therapy every day.” Does he doing any type of walking in therapy?: “Yes he does walk with therapy but he needs help, somebody to kind of guide him and, and you know, make him stay on task.”
Tell me about your first step.: “It was at therapy. They were hanging on to me, on my belt so I didn’t fall down.” You’re also getting physical therapy. What is the physical therapy like?: “They make you walk, they stretch you out on a mat, down there.” That hurt?: “Not really, no.” What does hurt?When they stretch you out and your muscles are really tight that is about the only pain you got.
What do you thinks important for people to know about, what it, it’s like to have gone through what you’ve gone through?: “It’s very hard to get back to where you were, rehabilitation and all of that.” What’s the hardest part of the rehabilitation?: ‘You’re practicing everything so you get back to normal.”
What do you remember about your therapy?: “I had to learn how to walk again. I was very dizzy. I couldn’t make it from the couch to the bathroom without falling so I had to literally hold on to things and it was, it was tough on me.” Was the problem because your muscles weren’t working properly or because you had no balance?: “I think it was just balance.”
Talk to me about the outpatient therapy.: “I had physical therapy to learn how to balance again, walk again. I had cognitive therapy, how to try and think, try and communicate, try and remember.” In your physical therapy, the primary focus was on walking?: “Yeah, balance and walking.” What did they do in the therapy to help you walk?: “Did a lot of exercise with balance. Like I would sit on a ball and that would, you know, rock if I looked one direction or another and, and then, you know, she would toss me a ball and I’d toss it back and things that were simply prior to the accident that I would have laughed at and said this is, you know, I mean this is simple and I was shocked at how hard some of the exercises were.”
Did you ever confront anybody as to why there weren’t therapists in the hospital who could come in and work with her?: “Well, yeah. They, they said they weren’t there to do that. They told me they were not there to do that. They were there to make sure she was medically safe. There was not enough money to do physical therapy. She had to go up on the sixth floor, which is the brain rehab department, but she wasn’t ready to do it because she couldn’t withstand three hours of therapy.”
Explain to me what a tilt table is?: “Oh. It’s just like a big bed that has straps. You get strapped on it and then you get, slowly but surely, you get, lifted straight up. So it’s a little process because you haven’t been standing up for five months, so, you know, it’s kind of a slow process, laying her on her side, laying her on her stomach. Just doing very a lot, a range of motions, kind of what it started out to be.” When asked how long she was able to get Rehab on the 6th floor Rita’s mom explains: “Six weeks. So the middle of July to end of August she was there. And she did okay. I mean, I have got to say that rehab place has a renowned reputation. I mean, it does, and supposedly they get all these people to come back in. But when they say three hours of rehabilitation, that is all you get; three hours. I was, I was a little surprised, because I’m, okay, what are you doing all these other hours of the day. You’re not allowed to go there.
“She goes to physical therapy three times a week, she went to speech therapy for a while. You know, I, there’s a bunch of help out there. I mean, I, especially Bayfront speech and occupational people sent us home with a bunch of stuff. So we just kind of stayed home and, you know, worked on all that ourselves.”
At the end of Part Nine, Rita’s mom explained that they were left to themselves to find ways to help Rita when she came home: “I started doing the research finding out where she could go, because it was a big problem because of Medicaid, where she’s going to go, who’s she going to pay for, who’s, how’s it going to be paid, blah, blah, blah. Then I went to a couple of hospitals around here. I knew what she needed was a standing frame.” What’s a standing frame?: “A standing frame is something, it’s just a little, kind of machine. You kind of sit in it, it kind of lifts you up, so you can stand. And it’s all supported, but you’re standing, so you get used to the feeling of standing again. I knew that’s what she needed. When we left Bayfront, that’s where she was. She was just, you know, getting in the standing frame. So, yeah, just went around, checked out a few places. I decided on Community right here because it’s so close to our house, and it turned out the physical therapist here used to be in the brain rehab department at Tampa General. So he’s a great guy, very familiar with it. We’ve been coming here since November.”
You were getting physical therapy as well?: “That was, the physical therapy was more the walking like up and down stairs. They were having me step over cones and things like that. And then the occupational would be when they had me just using my left arm because right after the accident, I couldn’t raise it higher than like maybe about that.” Do you remember the process of relearning to walk?: I do, but I mean, it wasn’t really so much the process. I remember it’s just every day you can notice just a little improvement the more you did. Once I left the hospital, I was getting, outpatient therapy twice a day. But I would also take my wheelchair and walk to the corner of one block, sit in my chair until I could get up again, and then walk to the corner of the next one, sit down, and I just kept adding to that about every other day if I could.”
So he was getting physical therapy to help with this right-sided weakness?: “Yes. They were getting him up to walk, but we were working on just the strength again in his right arm. When TJ came home from the hospital he weighed about 125 pounds, so he was very, very weak. He was very thin.”
Do you remember the outpatient rehab?: “A little bit.” What do you remember about it?: “Like, where it was and what I did.” Were you getting physical therapy?: “Physical, speech and occupational.” What were they doing in physical therapy?: “Helping me walk.” Now, when you first begin to remember, are you able to walk?: “No, maybe not.” And when you went to the outpatient rehab, you were working on your walking, so that you could walk better?: “Yes.” What did that consist of?: “The therapists were here, here (pointing to each arm) and one behind me, in case I fell. To keep me walking.”
Something that is an option for future treatment for people with brain injuries is a movement towards personal trainers. Personal trainers are less expensive than physical therapists and perhaps even available through organizations like the YMCA or other.