A Second Chance to Walk Again
“We exceeded our goal which gave me a second chance to live with a quality of life I was hoping for!” – Theresa, former Ivy Rehab patient
Have you ever received a message that completely stopped you in your tracks? When Aleece Passow received a note from her former patient Theresa, it was an instant reminder that she chose this career for a reason and that she and her team were making a real difference.
Aleece Passow, Physical Therapist in Grand Haven, MI
Theresa came to physical therapy after a devastating year filled with hospitalizations, surgeries, and serious illness. But despite being thrown one curveball after another, she hadn’t lost hope. Theresa had a spinal fusion, a surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in your spine that ultimately eliminates motion between them. But in Theresa’s case, she didn’t just have the surgery between two of her vertebrae, she had it throughout her entire spine. During her recovery, things went downhill when she was diagnosed with a MRSA infection, developed sepsis, and had a malfunction of her spinal hardware which resulted in a spinal cord injury. Doctors weren’t sure if she would ever be able to walk again, but as a former rehab tech, Theresa knew the power of physical therapy, and she wasn’t about to give up that easily.
When Theresa first came to Ivy Rehab, she was weak and not her normal self, but she still had a little fight left in her, and we took that spark and really worked hard on trying to get her to move,” explains Aleece Passow, Physical Therapist and Clinic Director. “Theresa’s main goal was to be able to walk without any assistive device. She desperately wanted to get back to her old life, which meant getting outside and working with horses again.”
Aleece and her team worked with Theresa for eight months, taking literal “baby steps” to recovery. On day one, Theresa could only transfer from her wheelchair to other surfaces but wasn’t really able to walk. The team began working in the gym to strengthen Theresa’s legs and core, allowing her to eventually get around slowly with a walker. While this was a huge step in the right direction, Theresa and the team both knew they could do more. They pushed a little harder to get her balance and endurance up, and with a little more work, she could walk outside with walking sticks. At this point, the only thing left to do was walk unassisted, and Theresa was ready for it.
“Real progress was being made, and it was simply beautiful to watch it all unfold. For me as a therapist, it all culminated when Theresa invited me to the barn where she works, and I watched her feed the horses,” said Aleece. “And now that Theresa has completed her therapy, she feels as though she was given a second chance at life.”
“When I came to Ivy Rehab, the doctors weren’t sure if I would be able to walk again, but Aleece and I worked very hard on my strength, balance and walking,” explains Theresa. “Our main goal was for me to walk 1,000 feet in the community with my walker. At the end of rehab, I was able to walk 930 feet on my own! We exceeded our goal, which gave me a second chance to live with the quality of life that I was hoping for!”
Stories like Theresa’s are what we live for as therapists. Knowing that we have the ability to change someone’s life is an indescribable feeling. Theresa’s determination and courage, combined with our team’s knowledge and compassion, prove that therapy works. By combining forces we changed Theresa’s life in incredible ways, and there’s no better feeling in the world.
Aleece Passow is a physical therapist and clinic director in Grand Haven, MI. She and her team are passionate about creating an exceptional patient experience and pride themselves on helping patients achieve their goals in an encouraging and fun environment. They specialize in helping people heal from injuries and reduce chronic or unexplained pain.
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