One of the first things we did when we returned home to Mt. Pleasant, SC was to interview at-home caregiver businesses to take me to therapy whenever I would have it and provide in-home care. We were not having much success in finding the ideal situation, but, then my buddy Michael Onorato stepped up to the plate. Michael agreed he would take me to therapy everyday and hang out with me in my off time. I was, and still am, very appreciative that my elementary school buddy would do such an awesome thing for me! My parents and I initially went to East Cooper Hospital on September 11, 2014 for a PT, OT and Speech Therapy eval, as recommended by Shepherd Center’s outpatient facility. After my PT and OT appointments we heard the unfortunate news that insurance was no longer going to cover Speech Therapy. After hearing that my heart dropped, but the East Cooper Speech Pathologist, Katie Edwards, was nice enough to give me a free eval while my dad contacted both our insurance case manager at the time and Shepherd’s Pathways. East Cooper’s PT therapist, Suzanne Rodgers, was also nice and told us that she didn’t think that East Cooper rehab would be the best therapy source for my TBI related injuries and specific therapy needs, so she referred us to MUSC and provided us with MUSC’s outpatient therapy’s number.
Walking on the elbow platform walker at MUSC.
Once we got into therapy at MUSC I was registered with all three disciplines, which were once again covered by insurance, even Speech (thankfully). I started in PT learning how to scoot down a mat, which doubled as my bed, while sitting on the edge and walking on an elbow platform walker, focusing on lifting my left leg fully. In OT I would put a heated pad on my left shoulder’s pectoral muscle to help loosen it up before stretching it and trying to open sealed containers myself. For Speech Therapy I was mostly focusing on the letters my tongue was having troubles producing like ‘K’, ‘G’ and ‘CH’. Unfortunately, MUSC was unable to schedule therapies more than one or two times a week. With my injuries I needed to work as hard and often as I could to achieve the best outcome for my recovery. So one day while I was at MUSC my dad did some investigating and found Roper St. Francis Rehabilitation Hospital who said they could give me all three disciplines three days a week.
Katherine, Michael and me during a PT session.
I am now attending Roper St. Francis and have been since December 9, 2014 (almost a YEAR!!). My PT is a recent graduate from MUSC, Katherine Bennett, who is all about nuero-cases and has recently gotten her nuero-IFRAH certification. We have been working on everything from isolated muscle strengthening to walking with no support or assistance. I initially started PT for 1 hour 3 days a week, but am now doing 2 hours 4 days a week because Katherine saw my potential and enjoys working with me! My OTs, Tara Murphy and Lindsay Deane, are awesome as well. We are currently focusing on getting more range of motion out of my left arm and I’ve already learned how to put on all of my clothes myself. One of my OTs recommended I should get tendon release surgery on my left finger joints because they want to fist-up and we’ve already tried everything we can do to get them to relax, so I am having surgery to relax my fingers in a few weeks, December 3, 2014 (right fingers crossed). I was released from Speech Therapy at Roper around May 2014 because the therapist ran out of ideas to help me gain anymore speech intelligibility or to help my dysarthria. Since May I started with a few new Speech Pathologists at East Cooper Hospital: JoAnn Fischer, who previously worked with TBI cases in Baltimore, at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Katie Edwards, the one who had been nice enough upon my return home to give me my initial speech eval; and Kaylen Alford, a recent graduate from App State with her degree in Speech Therapy. I just finished 6 weeks of LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Therapy) to help get the volume of my voice up to a higher decibel in everyday conversation. And while doing my ‘ahh’s I got them up from 3 seconds while at Shepherd Center all the way up to 19.5 seconds with the help of East Cooper! So that’s my story so far. I will make sure to keep you all posted on big obstacles that I overcome and how my surgery goes on December 3rd!