Bobby's Story

Bobby Carroll and his wife in the hospital lobby.

Bobby Carroll is a native Texan known for his quiet strength and a deep love of helping others. Reared in Quanah, Bobby and his seven siblings toiled tirelessly, picking cotton in the fields. Years later, after working as a miller mechanic for 46 years, the work took a toll on Bobby in the form of constant back pain. Bobby's wife of 57 years, Sharon, recalled how the pain gradually curtailed some of his favorite hobbies — tending to their land, gardening, plowing and mowing.

To address the pain, Bobby had back surgery in Dallas which brought on a cascade of complications, urinary tract infections, COVID-19 pneumonia and acute respiratory failure. His recovery path was fraught with extended hospital stays, rehab facility transfers and readmissions.

Those challenges took a mental and physical toll. Bobby grappled with hallucinations, confusion and extreme weakness. He was unable to walk or get out of bed by himself, and performing basic self-care activities required full assistance from others. On top of that, he lost 40 pounds due to fatigue and difficulty eating.

After two months in the acute care hospital, Bobby’s medical team recommended a stay in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. For that, Bobby and Sharon chose Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton. Bobby had a singular goal for rehabilitation, “I just want to live." He also wanted to regain strength to move around and care for himself with greater independence.

Upon admission to Denton, Bobby required total assistance. After the care team assessed him, they put a plan in place to help him reach his goals.

Physical therapy (PT) worked to improve his strength and endurance. They initially focusing on transferring from sitting to standing, gait training for safe walking and standing tolerance for endurance. In the gym, he used the parallel bars to support himself while practicing walking – it also served to improve his strength. Bobby saw small but steady improvements and recalled thinking, "I think I'm going to beat this. I'm going to make it."

Occupational therapy (OT) worked with Bobby on safely performing daily tasks such as grooming, dressing, toileting and eating. His therapists also guided him on how to distribute his weight to safely move from one position to another so he wouldn’t fall. Therapy sessions also included logging time on an upper arm bike to build strength, stamina and improve Bobby’s general cardiovascular endurance for any activities he would undertake.

OT made therapy a little more interesting when they created an obstacle course for Bobby in which he’d do exercises using a rolling walker. He’d retrieve objects on different levels to improve his endurance, strength and visual scanning ability.  Bobby progressed from requiring full assistance for more difficult tasks such as lower body dressing and donning/doffing on socks and shoes, to needing only moderate help.  Sharon was by his side every day and participated in family training through the hospital’s care partner program to help her gain confidence in preparing for Bobby’s return home.

Speech therapy worked on improving Bobby’s swallowing ability and cognition. When he arrived, Bobby’s diet consisted of thickened liquids and soft foods. Therapists performed a swallow test that showed his muscles in action which helped speech therapists determine the least restrictive diet and effective safe swallowing strategies. After participating in swallowing exercises during therapy, Bobby was soon able to return to a regular diet. On the cognitive front, speech therapists used visual aids to improve Bobby’s short-term memory and processing speed.

After two and a half weeks at Select Medical Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton, Bobby had met all of his goals. He was walking 150 feet with his rolling walker, getting in and out of bed with minimal support, independently eating and brushing his teeth, and only requiring minimal assistance for dressing, toileting tasks and bathing. It was time to get back to his family, friends and his regular routine.

Bobby couldn’t thank his care team enough for their investment in helping him meet his goals, stating “The people here cared. They wanted to see me get better and they were all encouraging.”

Knowing others might be starting their own health journey and facing similar challenges, Bobby and Sharon have this advice: “Keep looking for the right doctors. They are out there, you just have to find them. If anybody is looking for inpatient rehabilitation, we recommend it here —this place is a blessing."

*Patient success stories from across our hospital network.