Regaining his mobility

Rick works hard with Abrazo Central Campus therapists to learn to walk again 

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Rick Schmidt, ​Patient at Abrazo Central Campus Acute Rehabilitation Unit Program

Rick Schmidt gripped the walker with both hands, his jaw set with determination, his eyes looking at the path before him. He was ready to make a bold move.

It was putting his recovering body to the ultimate test. The walker wasn’t his only support, this day. Behind stood his wife, a pair of rehabilitation therapists by his side.

It had been three months since Rick, 64, lost control of his car and hit a tree leaving him with a fractured leg, crushed vertebrae and shock to his spine.  Unable to move his legs or his arms, he worried he would remain paralyzed.

But at the Abrazo Central Campus, Rick received intensive therapy in the Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Program. It wasn’t going to be easy. But he pushed on, enduring at least three-hour daily sessions with the physical and occupational therapists.

When he first arrived April 4, he was fully dependent on others for the everyday tasks most people take for granted like feeding himself, dressing, grooming, bathing, using the toilet, and of course, getting in and out of a bed or chair as he could not walk.

Sharon McCoy and other occupational therapists worked with the retired jewelry executive to become more self-sufficient, regain his strength, mobility and independence.

His team of therapists, specialists, rehab registered nurses and physicians worked with him to provide a personalized care plan to meet his physical and occupational needs.

And while getting Rick to walk was the ultimate goal, he’d first had to practice standing and balancing. So up and down, up and down he moved, using the unit’s parallel bars to build his stamina.

Finally, came the day to test his ability to walk. As he gripped the walker, he was apprehensive. But the therapists offered encouragement.

He inched forward. It was just the beginning.

“I was walking more steps every time I used the walker. I was able to bear down my weight,’’ Rick said. “After my accident, I could barely wiggle my toes. My doctor now says I should make a full recovery.”

Rick praised the team of healthcare professionals at Abrazo Central Campus.

“The care here is unbelievably great. They make sure that I’m comfortable and not in much pain. The therapist listens to what I’m saying and they go above and beyond,’’ Rick said.  “I’ve just been ecstatic with everyone from housekeeping to the therapists and the nurses. I’ve received excellent care. Everyone is so responsive.’’

Edward Hernandez, Abrazo Central Campus physical therapist, said Rick made great progress given the extent of his injuries.
One of the issues was that his pain level was at an 8 when he arrived and that made it difficult for him to use his arms. Through stretches and exercises, his pain level dropped to about a 3.

“We helped him get back on his feet and be more functional,’’ Edward said.

Edward and other physical therapists helped Rick build up his strength with stretching and exercise so that he could get in and out of his bed and chair as well as being able to get in and out of a car.

Because the rehabilitation program is inside Abrazo Central Campus, Rick had seamless access to the hospital’s traditional pharmacy, dietary, radiology and laboratory services. 

By the time Rick was ready to leave the hospital, he was able to take care of his everyday activities with minimal assistance and had built up to taking 100 steps with the walker.

And when he left the Abrazo Central Campus on May 24, he walked out on his own, needing just one person to supervise his effort.

“The therapists explained to me about every detail about what they were doing to help me.  I feel comfortable in doing it. They encourage me to do as much as I can,’’ Rick said. “For a person in such a bad shape, I am blessed to be able to walk.”