Story Feature

When Katherine Johnson came to Valley West Health Care Center in Eugene, Oregon, for rehabilitation on Oct. 3, 2018, she had been through a lot.


Johnson had suffered a heart attack due to toxic encephalopathy, a reaction to toxic chemicals in the neurological system. She even spent time in a coma. Complicating matters, she also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


At first, Johnson was in need of total assistance for most of her mobility and all of her activities of daily living. She couldn’t verbalize and could only nod her head yes or no, and her understanding of language and her swallowing was also impaired. She couldn’t feed herself and did not have control of her gross motor movements.


Physical and occupational therapists all played a role in helping Johnson recover, meeting with her five days a week. They followed Valley West’s stroke recovery protocol, and they used electrical stimulation to help with pain and movement.


Physical therapists worked with Johnson to recover her mobility skills, from the basics of sitting balance and bed mobility to more advanced tasks like getting out of bed, balancing while standing and finally walking.


Occupational therapists addressed Johnson’s ability to take care of herself, from bathing and getting dressed to managing her medications and grooming.


Johnson was able to achieve amazing outcomes – regaining her independence with some modifications in just two weeks! She returned home on Oct. 17.


“I attribute Katherine’s success to a combination of activities of daily living retraining, her own motivation and the modalities we used to activate neuroplasticity and bring movement to the affected muscles,” said Jennifer Sanders, occupational therapist assistant.


“I could not have done so well without therapy,” said Johnson. “I noticed a big difference after each treatment – especially after E-stim. Everyone has been helpful and motivating.”


Johnson plans to continue therapy on an outpatient basis to further improve her mobility.

Story Tagged: Rehabilitation, Cardiac