Life Care Centers of America
Heidi Pino, Life Care Public Relations

On June 12, 2020, Kathy Wooden was involved in a motor vehicle accident with an 18-wheeler that left her with a head injury and multiple fractures, including of ribs and legs.

It was Life Care Center of Rhea County in Dayton, Tennessee, that helped turn things around for her. And now, almost a year later, she has successfully returned home.

After more than three weeks in the hospital in Chattanooga, Kathy went to an acute rehab center, and then to Life Care Center of Rhea County, which was nearer to her home in Pikeville, Tennessee.

When Kathy arrived on Aug. 12, she was on a feeding tube. She needed total assistance for walking, transfers from one surface to another and all of her self-care. She required extensive assistance with sitting and standing balance, wheelchair mobility, bed mobility and speech, and she had some difficulty with understanding language as well.

All three therapy disciplines jumped into action to help the 43-year-old get her life back. They each worked with her five days a week.

The physical therapy team worked with Kathy first on pain management and strength training, especially for her lower body. Then, as she regained strength and was able to do more, put their efforts into getting her mobile again. They also trained her in safety awareness, compensatory strategies and balance.

The occupational therapy team worked with Kathy on mostly upper-body strengthening, as well as how to use her orthotics. They, like the PTs, helped her with safety awareness, and they retrained her in her activities of daily living, such as bathing, getting dressed and grooming.

Kathy benefitted from the speech therapy team’s expertise when it came to oral motor exercises to strengthen her speech and swallowing muscles. Speech therapy helped her improve her cognition and communication. On Sept. 10, she was able to have her trach removed, and on Oct. 8, she was able to get off the feeding tube and take in all her nutrition by eating and drinking.

“Without therapy, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” said Kathy. “They are awesome!”

It was a slow recovery with all her trauma and following the COVID-19 precautions, but Kathy successfully returned home with her parents with assistance on May 20, 2021. She is at a supervision level for her mobility and most of her self-care tasks, and she is able to communicate better.

“Kathy’s recovery has been quite phenomenal,” said Hayley Davis, interim director of rehab services. “When she was admitted, she was unable to move the right side of her body, had a trach and PEG tube and did not have high motivation for therapy due to all her injuries and extreme levels of pain. As she agreed to work with therapy more and more, the more motivated she became. Kathy’s progress was slow, as she battled insurance approvals, high levels of pain, increased muscle tone and spasms, edema and communication barriers. But Kathy was a true joy to work with due to her sense of humor and the amount of motivation she regained.”

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