After a life-changing accident or illness, people sometimes quite literally need a little help to get back on their feet.
For two women, the rehabilitation unit at Firelands Regional Medical Center provided just the help they needed.
Perkins graduate Shannon Bradford, 21, was partially paralyzed after surgery to remove a tumor from her spinal cord.
"One of the risks was paralysis for the rest of my life," she said. "I was terrified."
After the May 29 surgery she spent five weeks in rehab at Firelands.
"It was the hardest time of my life, but I absolutely had a blast," Bradford said. "I made so many friends ... the nurses were just amazing."
Bradford is now in her senior year at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
"My biggest goal was to get back," Bradford said. She is continuing with physical therapy and is now able to walk all over campus.
While she still has some deficits in her left leg, Bradford said she's almost back to normal.
"It was major determination and motivation on my part, too," she said.
Sally Dilgard, 67, of Ashland was in a devastating car accident May 19.
Dilgard suffered a ruptured diaphragm, fractures in the vertebrae of her neck and nine rib fractures. She was in a coma for six weeks.
Dilgard's daughter saw an advertisement for the Firelands rehab unit.
"She and my husband came and checked it out and were very pleased," Dilgard said.
When she first went to Firelands, Dilgard was still unable to walk, but after 10 days in rehab she was back on her feet.
"The outpatient therapy here is wonderful too," she said. "The staff is great."
Dilgard said she set different goals for herself throughout the healing and rehabilitation process.
"You have to motivate yourself," she said. "You have to want to get better."
Dilgard said her new goal is to be able to drive.
REHAB STATS - STAT!
Firelands Regional Medical Center has had a rehabilitation services unit for 15 years.
"We're the only inpatient acute rehab in the five-county area," said Admission Liaison Rebecca Roth.
The unit has a full-time staff of 65 people who work to help rehabilitate individuals with a variety of conditions, including those recovering from strokes, neurological problems, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, orthopedic problems, amputations, and cardiac and pulmonary issues.
"It's very rewarding," Jillian Herr, R.N., said of her work. Herr is a charge nurse in the rehab unit.
The unit discharges an average of 550 patients each year, said Unit Administrator Susan Glenn.
"Right now about 75 percent of our patients come from Firelands," Glenn said.
Roth will travel to other hospitals to meet with patients and their families to assess their rehabilitation needs.
The unit recently expanded from 18 to 29 beds and plans to add an additional five beds by the end of the year. All of the rooms are private with a private bathroom.
Roth said their goal is to help patients return to the level of independence they had before rehab.
Firelands Regional Medical Center's rehab unit also offers free in-home evaluations. For information call 419-557-7836.
Jennifer Grathwol 9/13/07 PULLOUT 1
September 16 - 22 is National Rehab Week