Inpatient Rehabilitation Can Change Lives

Inpatient Pt Kathryn
Kathryn Delarme (center) is shown with her rehabilitation team including (l. to r.) Amy Eamigh, RN; Lindsey Pannone, Physical Therapist; Sierra Murray, Occupational Therapist; and Amanda Mills, Speech Therapist.

When Kathryn Delarme left work last spring, she didn’t realize her life was about to be turned upside down. Kathryn was having a stroke. After diagnosis in the ER and surgery, she spent the next two weeks at Penn Highlands DuBois undergoing inpatient rehabilitation to help her regain function so she could return home.

“The program and the people were fantastic,” said the mother of three from Sykesville, Pennsylvania. “The team developed an individualized plan for me to heal and they encouraged me every way possible.”

Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation is provided by The Rehabilitation Center of Penn Highlands Healthcare — licensed inpatient rehabilitation hospitals that include Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Mon Valley. The Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to help people recover from surgery, traumatic injury or a debilitating disease. A patient’s therapy plan and treatment are overseen by a physician who specializes in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Other team members include a dedicated staff of nurses, case managers, physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists and other specialists as needed.

While inpatient rehabilitation is not prescribed for every patient who requires rehabilitation, Laun R. Hallstrom, MD, a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician who serves as the Medical Director of Penn Highlands Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation, explained which patients have the best outcomes.

“When assessing if inpatient rehabilitation is the most appropriate setting for a particular patient, we consider three factors. First, the patient must have a deficit that we expect can improve. In addition, inpatient rehabilitation requires the ability to participate in therapy sessions for a minimum of three hours per day. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Third, the patient must be able to learn and carry forward new skills,” said Dr. Hallstrom

By remaining in the hospital for inpatient rehabilitation, patients receive intensive therapy and comprehensive care in a safe, supervised medically monitored environment. They work with a therapy team a minimum of three hours each day.

Mrs. Delarme’s rehabilitation program included morning and afternoon physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions.

  • Physical Therapy (PT) sessions helped strengthen her legs. Some of her PT included riding a stationary bicycle; using a walker to climb short flights of steps; bar squats; and weighted leg exercises.
  • Occupational Therapy helped with hand movements and activities of daily living. She practiced everyday activities such as dressing, bathing, cooking, sewing and writing.
  • Speech Therapy helped Mrs. Delarme work with words because the stroke left her with difficulties when talking.

“Damage to the language centers can result in difficulty thinking of the word you want to say, switching words or sounds, and/or trouble with expressing complete thoughts,” explained Amanda N. Millis, MS, CCC-SLP, a Speech-Language Pathologist/Clinical Coordinator who worked with Mrs. Delarme. “This difficulty with communication can be frustrating, however, Kathryn maintained a positive attitude throughout her stay. She participated in exercises targeting spoken and written language as well as strategies to improve overall communication. Her motivation and dedication to the program really allowed her to shine and demonstrate progress towards her goals. I really enjoyed being a part of her team.”

Mrs. Delarme was anxious to get back to her home and family but she was engaged and determined to complete her rehabilitation program.

“I know it’s going to take time, but everyone I worked with was so skilled. The nurses and therapists were definitely great. They were all experts at what they do; and, made me do things over and over and pushed me to get better. They wanted me to be ready and confident when I went home,” explained Mrs. Delarme.

“Motivation is one of the greatest determinants of patient success,” said Dr. Hallstrom. “The patients who fully embrace the rehabilitation process will have the best outcomes. An engaged and supportive family can also have a critical impact.”

Dr. Hallstrom and the entire staff at Penn Highlands Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation are dedicated to helping patients regain the highest degree of functional mobility, independence and quality of life possible and their commitment shows with their positive outcomes.

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