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Toni Talks about PT Today

A Disappointing Outcome

Published December 18, 2012 12:15 PM by Toni Patt

When I started my current job, I was given a request. Help Jenny (not her real name) walk again. Jenny had a devastating stroke four months prior to that and was just beginning to wake up. At first they didn't think she'd live. Then they didn't think she'd wake up. She fooled them all. When she became my responsibility, she was awake, following one-step commands and moving her left side.

So I did what they asked. I got Jenny walking. I don't think anyone believed I could do it at first. There were times when my tech and I practically dragged her down the hall. Other times, I didn't think I'd ever get that knee working. I spent almost as much time thinking about what I was doing as I did actually doing it. Finally three months later, Jenny walked to the dining room with SBA.

We kept working. Jenny became MI for almost everything except sit-to-stand. We reached the point where her nervous system had no more to give. Jenny had started cruising through therapy so I signed off. Prior to doing so, Jenny and I had a talk. I'd noticed that she'd gained some weight. It was making transfers and walking more difficult. I was concerned that her post-stroke body couldn't manage her pre-stroke weight.

That was about two weeks ago. This morning I checked on her. She was in the dining room sitting in her wheelchair. It turned out she wasn't walking to meals anymore. In fact, she isn't walking much at all anymore. The restorative aides tell me she's having trouble getting out of her chair. They have to lift her up. They tell me she spends most of her time in bed drinking sodas.

The good news is that Jenny beat the odds. She's alive with a decent quality of life. The bad news is all that work was apparently for nothing. Jenny is happy to rely on her wheelchair. Yes, she can do many things independently but her goal was to walk to the bathroom. We achieved that goal and then some.

I'm torn about how I feel. Getting her walking was a major accomplishment. How she moves around the facility now is her choice. I shouldn't be surprised. Many patients lose some mobility once discharged from therapy. After all that work, I guess I expected something more.

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