Sally Van Winckel, 79, spent most of her life in New York raising her family and working in sales management for many years before retiring and relocating to Texas. Following her husband’s passing, she moved to Cross Roads to be near her son, Jeff, and was looking forward to this new season of her life.
However, her next chapter took an unexpected turn during an evening out in Denton with Jeff. After dinner, Sally lost her balance and fell hard on the concrete while heading to the car. She knew immediately she could not get up on her own due to the pain she experienced. Two people passing by stopped to help her to the car, but once Jeff arrived, he decided to call an ambulance.
Upon admission, scans and x-rays showed Sally had a right shoulder injury and a right hip fracture. Due to a history of osteoarthritis, her doctors prescribed limiting weight on her right leg (impacting her ability to walk) and limiting the use of her right arm (impacting her ability to function and provide self care) to prevent further injury. She was in significant pain and required a lot of assistance to move. No surgery was warranted, but she received four days of rehabilitation in the acute hospital before being referred to Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton for more intense inpatient rehabilitative care. Her goals for therapy were to walk again and regain the function of her right arm.
Sally initially required minimal to moderate assistance transferring in and out of bed, but she was unable to do any walking. Her physical therapists focused on increasing her physical mobility and safety during transfers such as standing and using the wheelchair. Sessions included the use of the parallel bars to help improve balance and body awareness, training on effective safety precautions to prevent falls and guided practice using a walker.
In occupational therapy, Sally initially required moderate to maximum assistance from clinicians when performing toileting tasks, transfers and dressing. Her therapy team educated her on modified techniques and equipment (such as an immobilizer for her shoulder) to aid her in activities of daily living without causing further shoulder pain or injury.
At discharge, Sally was able to independently transfer in and out of bed as well as the car, and only required minimal assistance during dressing, bathing and toileting. Although she still had some weakness in her right leg, she could successfully walk with the walker up to 30 feet and planned to continue rebuilding strength with home health or outpatient therapy.
Several months later in a follow-up call to check on her progress, Sally shared she was recently discharged from her home health physical therapy and occupational therapy care and was driving again and getting around using a cane.
Reflecting on her time at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of Denton, Sally recalled initially feeling overwhelmed by the challenge of even basic tasks. However, a turning point was when her physical therapist was helping her walk and she could see her strength and balance improving from the daily exercises and interventions. She shared, “The patience and helpfulness of the therapy team motivated me. They would often stop by my room between sessions to check on me. Without them, I would not have made the progress that I made.”