Mrs. S Begins a New Life After
Emergency Leg Amputation 

A few inches can make all the difference. For Chicago north side resident Mrs. S., the few that her surgeon saved below her knee helped her maneuver independently from bed to wheelchair, and will aid in her ability to eventually walk with a prosthetic leg. After fighting a reoccurring infection and narrowly escaping death, and with the help of the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Swedish Hospital, she was finally able to start a new, pain free life. 

For years Mrs. S. suffered from an infected ulcer in her left foot. It caused extreme pain and high fevers, leading to her hospitalization on multiple occasions. When the infection spread into her blood, the medical team of Swedish Hospital knew they had to act quickly.

“I can’t remember exactly how I arrived here because I was very sick,” she said. “But the doctors said that if I had waited any longer I would have died.” After taking into account Mrs. S. history with recurring infection, the team determined amputation as the best course of action. 

The surgery was successful, and the medical team began addressing the toll that the infection had on the rest of her body. Mrs. S. underwent dialysis and endured an intubation period. She continued to recover, and the staff was soon able to stabilize her condition. 

She was then transferred to the inpatient rehabilitation unit, where she underwent intensive acute rehabilitation to learn how to walk again and regain her independence with one leg. In addition to clinically-proven rehabilitation therapies, hands-on treatment and innovative technologies, the personal relationships she developed with her care team, such as Sonja Bye, a physical therapist at Swedish Hospital, assisted her in regaining confidence in her ability to recover.

For Mrs. S., a significant contributing factor to her holistic well-being was the incorporation of art therapy. When treating Mrs. S., Occupational Therapist Alysa Lucas found artistic activity useful in improving movement and dexterity in the arm Mrs. S. had received dialysis through. 

“Alysa worked with me on strengthening my mind as well as my hand,” Mrs. S. said. “We completed art projects that focused on small, controlled movements while also stimulating my thoughts. She was tough. She always did the exercises with me, but she never did them for me.” Mrs. S. cherished these moments of unique, inspired therapy for allowing her to be active in her healing process while benefiting her emotional health. 

With the help of the rehabilitation staff and the social workers of Swedish Covenant Hospital, Mrs. S. returned to her own home after discharge, where her children assisted her in the next stage of her recovery.

“A lot of people kept telling me to go to Swedish Hospital, and I’m glad I did,” she said. “They’re a special group in the rehab unit, and I cannot say one bad word about this hospital. I want to thank the entire Swedish Covenant Hospital team for saving my life. They were so good to me.” 

To learn more about the rehabilitation services offered by Swedish Hospital, or to schedule an appointment, please call 773-878-6888.

By David Modica | Published February 2, 2016

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