Richard Linn, 69, was enjoying an active lifestyle. When he wasn’t working in customer service, he was golfing and spending time with family. His normal routine was interrupted when he became ill with pneumonia. Richard was managing his symptoms at home with the help of his wife, Pat, but gradually started to experience worsening fatigue and muscle weakness, including difficulty getting out of bed and struggling to eat. He was admitted to the hospital where he was placed on supplemental oxygen for four days and then discharged back home.
The evening he returned home, Pat placed a call to update their primary care physician. After reporting Richard’s current vital signs, the doctor recommended that Pat take him to another nearby hospital ER where he was admitted.
The next morning, Richard fell unconscious while walking to take a shower in the bathroom, requiring CPR from the nurse who was assisting him. His right lung had collapsed due to the pneumonia and his heart stopped beating for a full four minutes. He was revived and placed in the intensive care unit with a respirator and heavy sedation to reduce his agitation. He stayed in the intensive care unit for 30 days before being moved to a nearby critical care hospital for an additional 30 days. “I couldn’t really do much moving around because I had a lot of monitoring devices and lines and tubes connected to me,” Richard said about his prolonged time in the hospital.
Upon his third discharge, Richard and Pat knew he needed more time and rehabilitation in order to get stronger before going home. Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton was recommended by his doctors as well as by a family member who worked in healthcare. The decision to come to Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton was reinforced when Pat took a tour of the facility. “One of the happiest moments of my life was coming to Denton,” Richard recalls. Pat adds that she knew that the rehabilitation hospital would help get Richard one step closer to returning to normal.
When he got to Select Rehabilitation, Richard no longer needed supplemental oxygen and was eating again, but he was unable to stay in an upright posture without feeling light-headed and dizzy. Having not taken a single step in over 70 days, Richard’s goal upon admission was to be able to walk out of the hospital on his own. His physician-led team of nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists devised a plan of care to help Richard meet his goal.
When working with physical therapy, Richard said he appreciated how his therapist was very concerned about what mattered most to him. Since walking was Richard’s primary goal, his therapist made sure to incorporate gait training into each session. Richard progressed from only being able to walk in the room to walking up and down hallways. Therapists also utilized equipment such as the recumbent stepper, a fitness machine that allows the user to exercise in a reclined position, to help build his activity tolerance and resistance bands to build his lower extremity strength. Training was also provided for Richard and Pat to practice navigating curbs and stairs and to practice getting into and out of the car.
Occupational therapists educated Richard on energy conservation strategies and standing tolerance to help him be more independent with grooming, dressing and other activities of daily living. They also used the upper body ergometer -- also called an arm bike due to the pedaling motion the exercise equipment uses to work the upper body -- to challenge his activity tolerance and provided feedback to Richard about how his body was responding to activity. His occupational therapists played a key role for Pat, helping her feel capable of setting up the home environment so that Richard could safely return home. Pat recalls that the family training offered at Select Rehabilitation provided reassurance that her husband was going to be ready to go home after his long recovery journey.
Richard also received speech therapy during his stay, learning multiple strategies to help with memory, recall and problem solving. He learned to use external aids to assist with his memory and retention of information. Richard says that one tool he continues to use is making a list at the beginning and end of the day to help him stay on task and complete daily goals.
Richard stated that he was surprised by his progress during his stay at Select Rehabilitation. “Every day I realized that there was something I could do today that I couldn’t do the day before,” adding “When I got to the point where I could walk down the hallway without the physical therapist holding onto me – that was a big moment for me.”
Richard was able to successfully discharge home where he continued to work on rebuilding his strength and stamina through outpatient therapy at Select Rehabilitation. He progressed from requiring a rolling walker to no longer needing an assistive device to walk. Richard has also returned to driving and is fully independent with his activities of daily life. He is now back to working full time, taking care of his yard and playing a little golf.
Regarding his overall experience with Select Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton, Richard says, “From the day we got to the hospital and throughout my time in outpatient therapy, we have had such a great experience.” He also says that he has learned and re-learned many skills, noting that he has learned to better appreciate the value of patience during this season of his life. “You have to believe in the process to make it work.”