Donna Learns to Walk Again While Battling MS


Donna Learns to Walk Again While Battling MS

Despite battling MS for years, north-suburban resident Donna M. has enjoyed a high quality of life. But when a recent infection and complications arose, she was severely weakened and lost the ability to use her legs. Donna turned to the rehabilitation experts at Swedish Hospital to regain her mobility and—most importantly—her independence.

Following a stay at a local hospital, Donna began looking for an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Swedish Hospital’s Jessika Newman, the nurse liaison in acute rehabilitation, was able to get her approved quickly and transferred to the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation unit.

“I was very lucky to get in here,” said Donna, who was familiar with Swedish Hospital, having grown up nearby. She brought her positive, straightforward attitude and dedication to her therapy sessions and noticed that the staff brought the same. “I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself,” said Donna. “I couldn’t walk when I arrived at Swedish Hospital and I wanted to get back on my feet and get home as soon as possible!”

The rehabilitation team developed a comprehensive program for her, assigning physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) up to two times each day. Donna worked with Alysa Lucas, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at Swedish Hospital, and Physical Therapist Leemar Santos, PTA. The two teamed up to help Donna when she needed it most.

Donna was extremely worried at the start. She required near total assistance with all basic tasks. The team began working with Donna on personalized exercises to help her stand, walk, get in and out of bed and dress.  

Occupational therapy helped her gain the strength and balance to get in and out of a car, do laundry and other tasks that she would need to do once she returned home. Eventually, with hard work and dedication, Donna was able to walk 180 feet. On the day before leaving, she also was excited to participate in a pet therapy “puppy date” to help her put newfound strength and balance to practice.

"Donna was always ready and willing to work,” said Leemar. “Her positive attitude and consistency with her therapy ultimately led her to positive outcomes."

“It was amazing to see her regain her confidence and functional independence and leave the hospital and return home with modified independence.” added Alysa. “She was highly motivated and was always willing to try, no matter what the challenge was!”

Donna is thankful for the efforts of her rehabilitation partners and the results they helped her achieve. “They are a great team made up of very caring and supportive experts,” said Donna. “The program they developed helped me regain the use of my legs. I can walk again and I’m excited to return home and be independent.”

Donna has plans for the future now that she has been discharged from the hospital. “I’m looking forward to doing everything I used to do, from walking to simply relaxing in front of the TV or chatting via FaceTime with my grandkids,” she said. Donna’s also a Chicago Cubs fan and looks forward to watching the team on TV and in person this summer.

Moving forward, Donna will continue with home health services with Swedish Hospital therapists visiting her. She will also continue to do her exercises at home and appreciates that the PT and OT teams have even printed out the program she needs to do moving forward.

Donna says she’s “pleased as punch” and looks forward to a great summer filled will all the fun things she enjoys thanks to her successful recovery.

For more information on inpatient rehabilitation at Swedish Hospital, please visit the rehabilitation page.

By Bill Ligas | Published July 28, 2016
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