Tag Archives: Rehab

Best of the Best

My parents have been a HUGE benefit to my recovery and, of course, my life as a whole. With that being said, I’ve decided that this May blog posting will act as a belated Mother’s Day present AND an early Father’s Day present to the both of them!

First and foremost, I have to start off by giving them both props for being emotionally stable enough to have been woken up at 3AM EST on 2/2/13 by a phone call from two San Mateo, CA police officers informing them that their son, me, Anthony Macchio-Young, was on an ambulance and being transported to Stanford Hospital. After me only living on the West Coast for six days, at that! I could only imagine the inner turmoil the both of them must have been feeling while having to go through the trouble of finding the first flight out of Charleston, SC to San Francisco, CA. Not to mention having to take care of ALL of the other traveling necessities while one’s child is unconscious in ICU from a brain injury. One could assume that these two must have been through this before…but we are all very thankful that that was not the case! So, that can only mean that they are two of the best parents mankind has ever seen!

Belated Mother’s Day:

After my mom, Kim Young, flew out to San Fran with my dad the day after my accident and she didn’t leave my side until after returning home from ICU, acute care, Shepherd Center inpatient rehab and Shepherd Center’s outpatient rehab, Pathways seven months later. All of these initial rehabs were between the dates of 2/12/13-9/7/13. This was a real savings grace because I got to see her face each and every day. And we ALL know what just seeing one’s mom’s face can do in a time of desperation!

ryanAndMomUpon returning home she was required to go back to work. At first this was a different, off-kiltering, scenario for me, but I then realized that this was just another obstacle I’d have to overcome “slowly but surely” in my recovery process. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate every little thing she does! Whether it be preparing a meal, making my bed in the morning or any motherly type thing that she might do for me! The only thing is that I’m hoping, yet scared, that I will one day learn to live on my own again and I’m sure that I’ll have to relive my mommy withdrawals yet again.

Early Father’s Day:

My dad, Bill Macchio, wasn’t able to stick around during my inpatient days because he’s my family’s primary income source and owns his own business. He made it a point to visit as much as he could, while I was in both California and Atlanta though! Speaking of Atlanta, after my benefit fundraiser in April of 2013, that was organized by a group of family friends in Mt. Pleasant, SC, my dad took the money raised and did some research into the best neuro rehab hospitals within the US and found Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA. After finding the best rehab center closest to home, Charleston, SC, he then began studying the best way for me to get there. After investigating a few options he found that Delta Airlines would be the best choice. He was able to purchase three one-way tickets to Atlanta for a traveling nurse, my mom and me with the funds raised at the fundraiser.

My dad with me on my first day at Shepherd.

My dad with me giving thumbs up to Shepherd Center.

Since my mom and I returned home and she had to return to work it really became my dad’s time to shine! When I’ve got a doctor’s appointment scheduled he’s my number one man to take me or arrange for one of his employees to do so. Every Sunday I look at the upcoming week’s schedule and we then make plans as to how I’ll be able to make it to the various appointments for said week. I, of course, hope that I’ll one day be able to drive myself to appointments, work, social events, etc…

I’m making it one of my long term goals to eventually live on my own once again and let these two wonderfully awesome parents enjoy a life of their own, as most all parents end up doing once their children are out of the house for good. In the meantime though, I’m always attempting to make myself less and less of a burden on them. I can honestly thank each and every one of my therapists for making this more and more a realistic possibility. But I guess I never could have ever gone to and gotten through all my many therapy sessions without my mom and dad’s help, so…THANK YOU BEST MOM AND BEST DAD!

Neuro Nerds

As I’m sure many of you know, I received the majority of my therapy since returning home to Charleston, SC at Roper St. Francis’ Downtown location. Roper St. Francis’ outpatient therapy became my home away from home after going there for physical and occupational therapy four days a week for almost two full years. My parents and I then decided it was time to get some new/fresh eyes on my recovery process.

My Shepherd Center therapists brought this strategy to light for the three of us after seeing them use this tactic themselves. I had my regular Occupational, Physical, Speech and Recreational Therapists team, but would periodically have sessions with different rotating registered therapist, or even Physical and Occupational Therapy Assistants, in order to allow a fresh set of eyes to view my weaknesses/strengths. This showed great results on all ends of the spectrum!

With that being said, after going to Roper St. Francis for so long, 12/13-10/15, we decided it’d be best to ask the MUSC Physical Therapy Neuro Professor, Dr. Sara Kraft, what local therapy gym she thought had the best neuro focus.MUSC logo She told us that MUSC had recently reopened their gym in Mt. Pleasant with the plans of having all disciplines included to focus specifically on neurological issues. After hearing that one of Dr. Kraft’s former PT students, Eric Monsch, who had worked at Vanderbilt Stallworth in their Neuro inpatient Rehab department in Nashville, TN, was there I switched gyms to MUSC Mt. Pleasant right away. I had my first appointment with him on 10/21/15. After seeing his neuro nerd knowledge in-person I was very happy that we decided to get some new eyes on my recovery process! Although, there was an initial hiccup in the
move because they hadn’t yet acquired a neuro Occupational Therapist. The MUSC Rehab Manager, Ann Benton, was quick to inform us that they were going to transfer one of their own OTs out of their inpatient department very soon.

After about a month and a half of seeing Eric, MUSC had brought an OT neuro nerd, Vicky Whalen, over to the outpatient side of things. I had my first session with her on 12/1/15 and realized that she’s REALLY ON TOP of the neuro rehab game. So much so that it wasn’t till after the first two months of seeing her that we repeated something we had done together. Even more surprisingly, she had so many tricks up her sleeve that we did exercises that I had never done with any of my other OTs in the full 2.75 years I had been in therapy. This came as a big surprise to me because I had been saying, jokingly of course, that I could basically become any discipline therapists I’d wish to become because of the amount time that I’ve spent observing all of them. So, thanks for proving me wrong Vicky, thanks a lot. I’m kidding but that is really how much neuro nerd knowledge she has…

LSVT BIG LogoEric and Vicky made an awesome new set of eyes. Then, come mid-January, Eric has some unfortunate-news that he was going to change departments at MUSC and use his neuro skills in the MUSC Research Department. When he left at the beginning of February I had PT with Laurie Woods, who specializes in LSVT Big. It was once again GREAT to have yet another set of eyes on my recovery process. Especially from a therapist that specializes in a very particular neuro strategy for Parkinson disease, at that.

I only saw Laurie for just about a month because Mrs. Benton hired the first neuro nerd I had met when starting therapy in Charleston, Katherine Bennett! Katherine was my initial Physical Therapist when starting at Roper St. Francis, but she then had her first baby on March 4th, 2015. After her three month maternity leave was over she tried to get a part-time position at Roper, but they unfortunately did not have such a position open. Seeing her in a therapy environment again feels like a meant to be kind of scenario. I say this because after her not seeing me for almost a full year she has a fresh set eyes on my recovery, yet she is familiar with my typical patterns.

Katherine and me walker

Walking into MUSC therapy on my walker.

MUSC’s neuro gym has been a great choice overall, but they’ve only been able to see me two days a week from the get go. At first this was a little discouraging to my recovery process. That negativity ended up having a reverse effect and ended up showing me two perks of less therapy. The first being that it entices me to do my at home exercise program on my floor exercise mat, at the very least, two days a week. I’m even able to do my exercises on the floor when I’m by myself and even GET UP OFF OF THE FLOOR BY MYSELF! …which I’m obviously really excited to say I’m able to do. The other part of my home exercise program is for me to use my walker while at home alone. At first this had me a little worrisome, but now I’m walking and standing for 3 hours of the day while home alone. The second perk I’ve seen with less therapy is the fact that I’m able to focus on my love for design much more than I have been able to since my accident!


Oh, How the Tides Have Turned…

The photos featured are one of my brothers and me recreating a photo from almost two years ago. He and his wife were visiting Charleston for the first time in a pretty long while and his wife showed me the first picture at dinner their first night in town earlier this week. That’s when the idea struck me “We have to change places now”!
Before & After

Stage 2: Inpatient Rehab

First Step

My trunk failing to support me on my attempt to take my first step.

I started remembering what was happening and going on around me 2 weeks after ICU. While at Kentfield Rehab, in Marin County, California, the Speech Pathologist was working very hard on getting me to move my tongue and get some kind of sound out of me, but had no luck. In Physical Therapy I would mostly stand up in the standing frame and 23 minutes was my record while there. I also tried to take a single step but failed miserably, with my trunk collapsing. For Occupational Therapy I would do a board with different sizes and shaped pegs with my right hand because the left side of my body was completely immobile and still does suffer muscle tone. Meanwhile friends and family ran a fund raising party for me back home, Mt. Pleasant, SC, while my mom was staying in California with me and until I got home. After the fund raiser my dad had accumulated $15,000 (Thank you everyone!) and the first thing he did was buy my mom, a traveling nurse, and me first class Delta tickets to Atlanta because they would be bigger seats than coach and way cheaper than renting a private jet. So they took my trache (surgical opening to restore normal breathing) out on April 19, 2013.  Then on April 21, 2013 we then caught a 5am flight to Atlanta to continue inpatient rehab at Shepherd Center.


My first full day of therapy at Shepherd Center I said my first word ‘hi’. I then worked on my memory, both long term and short term. Within the first week I was there I did a swallow study to determine how well I was swallowing. I passed my swallow test the first week I was there and was put on a level 1 diet (pureed food) and eventually level 2 (honey thickened liquids and fine foods). Another thing I did in Speech Therapy was practice yelling out ‘ahh’. The typical, healthy, person can yell out ‘ahh’ for 20-25 seconds, but while at Shepherd I could only get mine up to 3.5 seconds tops. In Physical Therapy I was first started on serial casting to get rid of my ballerina feet, then moved on to mat exercises, walking in a platform walker with Bioness (remote estem device), graduated from the hoyer to heavily assisted transfers, and practiced getting into a vehicle for my parents’ sake. Occupational Therapy consisted of arm stretching, getting the first movement out of my left arm, and the FES bike (pedaler for OT and PT that consist of estem).

'Pedaling' my way to the city on the FES arm bike.

‘Pedaling’ my way to the city on the FES arm bike.

While there I got a Baclofen Pump to help reduce tone in my left leg and had surgery in my left ankle/achilles tendon to correct the ballerina feet because the serial casting didn’t help as much as everyone hoped. Graduated 4 months after being at Shepherd and I was then invited to their outpatient facility, Pathways.

Next entry will be about outpatient therapy.