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Stretch Limbs, Save Lives: A Day’s Work for In Home Physical Therapy

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Mar 12, 2016 11:31:00 AM

Not all home health care is routine. For one Residential patient, having in home physical therapy with Negasi was a literal and figurative lifesaver.Home health care begins by setting a plan of care: a carefully chosen prescription for the exact medical services that the patient needs in the home, at a frequency that is appropriate for those needs. Some patients may need multiple therapies several times per week during a recovery period. Others may have less frequent visits to monitor status and ensure that chronic conditions are staying well managed. With a plan of care in place, the schedule of visits — and what those visits will entail — can be relatively routine.

But there are always exceptions. Working in home health care means being prepared for anything. A clinician never knows what situation will be waiting when he or she walks into a patient's home; for example, this sensational story of stumbling into a financial scam in progress. In today's true story, Residential Home Health physical therapist Negasi was already improving his patient's functional status with routine care. But when he walked into an emergency situation, Negasi was a literal lifesafer.

Setting Health Goals

‘Joshua’ had been receiving care from Residential Home Health for some time. His primary diagnosis was Huntington’s disease, a genetic disease that progressively breaks down nerve cells in the brain. There is no cure for Huntington's disease, which leads to mental and physical degeneration, including muscle weakness and involuntary jerking movements called chorea. With a history of falling and weakness, Joshua depended on his mother as his primary caregiver; he had also been receiving nursing care and in home physical therapy on and off for over a year with Residential.

At the start of his latest plan of care, Joshua had an unsteady gait and could not safely walk from his bedroom to the front door, a distance of about 25 feet. He would lose his balance multiple times, and his mother had a hard time holding him up. Both were frustrated with his fall risks and mobility challenges. Rather than spend much of his time in bed and rely on his caregiver 24/7, Joshua wanted to be active and walk again.

Fighting Progression

At each of his therapy visits, Negasi instructed Joshua and his mother with a focus on safety: how to avoid falling and keep pathways clear. He also aided his patient through therapies that included manual therapy, stretching the upper and lower extremities, trunk stretching and exercises, and dynamic balance in sitting and standing positions. These therapies served to help alleviate Joshua's chorea symptoms and improve mobility and flexibility, keeping him safer, stronger, and out of the hospital.

Everyday Heroics

Physical therapy helped with Joshua's chorea, but he still experienced bouts of muscle jerking and choking daily. One day, Negasi arrived for their scheduled therapy appointment and found himself in the middle of an emergency. Joshua had choked and inhaled something into his lungs (a dangerous occurrence called pulmonary aspiration); he had been unable to breathe for several minutes. His mother feared he was, as she put it, ‘down for the count.’ Negasi rushed to Joshua and saved his life by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

A Message of Thanks

More than just a therapist to his patient, Negasi was a trainer, an adviser, a caregiver resource, a cheerleader, and a lifesafer. Joshua's mother expressed this beautifully in a letter of thanks to Residential Home Health:

I am writing this letter to tell you how wonderful Negasi is….Joshua has built a relationship with Negasi and says he gives him the BEST workout of anyone they have ever sent….We are so grateful for him. I wish he could continue to do therapy for Josh until the end. It makes him feel so much better and helps with his walking. I wanted to let you know we appreciate the help you provide and want to continue with Negasi as long as possible. He is a godsend.

No matter what your health challenge, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click the image below to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.

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Topics: Fall Prevention, Real World Stories