Life Care Centers of America
03/05/2020
Heidi Pino

A stroke left Hector Nunez unable to use his right side, but rehabilitation at The Highlands in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, helped restore his independence.

“I never thought I would walk, talk again,” said Hector.

When Hector arrived at The Highlands on Dec. 3, 2019, he couldn’t walk. He needed total assistance just to roll over in bed, as well as for everyday tasks we take for granted, like bathing and getting dressed. Since the stroke affected his facial and throat muscles, he needed help with speaking and swallowing as well. He could only eat soft foods.

All three therapy disciplines worked with Hector to help him reach his goals and regain as much of his independence as possible.

Physical therapy taught Hector exercises to start restoring function in his right side. Therapists used neurological reeducation to help his muscles respond better to his brain’s commands for movement and balance. They did strengthening exercises and gait training to help him relearn to walk, and the OmniCycle® exercise machine to work out his upper and lower body.

Occupational therapy worked with Hector on remastering his daily self-care skills, often using the fine motor skills he needed to handle things like a toothbrush or putting on his shoes.

Speech therapists did their part to address the stroke’s effects on his speech and swallowing, using strategies to strengthen the facial and throat muscles. He can now eat a regular diet and talk normally again.

“Therapy worked hard with me and treated me like family,” said Hector. “The nurses and certified nursing assistants are so kind. The food is very good, and the room was nice and big.”

Hector can now take care of himself and walk with supervision again for more than 150 feet at a time. He can manage going up and down about 24 steps, and he will graduate from therapy soon.

“Hector was a great patient and is the true meaning of a rehab success story,” said Pam Laha, physical therapist. “He worked extremely hard every day to make the gains he needed to meet his goal of walking and returning home.”

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