Dominic's Story

Dominic Gagliano sitting up during rehabilitation.

Dominic Gagliano, an 85-year-old retired kitchen and bath designer, is married with three sons and three grandchildren. Originally from New Orleans, Dominic built a house in Bush 20 years ago where he lives with his wife, Judy, and enjoys riding his tractor and taking care of the 10 acres of property. However, his life of retirement was disrupted when sudden chest pains brought him to his local hospital where he had an emergency aortic valve replacement procedure and also suffered a stroke. After two weeks in the hospital, Dominic was ready for discharge but unable to sit, stand, walk or manage any basic self-care, so he was referred by his hospital care team to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital.

Dominic spent 10 days at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital before reoccurring chest pains sent him back to the acute care hospital for an additional valve implant to correct an issue with his gallbladder. His chest pain subsided after the procedure, and he was able to readmit to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital to complete his rehabilitation.

Upon his second admission, Dominic was much stronger and more able to focus on the physical and occupational therapy he needed to reach his goals of being able to walk again and eventually get back to riding his tractor and taking care of his property.

His physical therapy sessions included walk training, leg exercises, balance activities using the parallel bars, stair climbing and stepper machine to increase leg strength and endurance.

During his occupational therapy, Dominic used the arm bike to increase his strength and endurance. He also performed fine motor activities using therapy putty and games designed to strengthen those skills. Additionally, his occupational therapist worked with him on his self-care skills such as bathing, dressing and toileting while also teaching him new ways of getting dressed and showering to keep him safe from falling.

Dominic said that visits from his wife and phone calls from the rest of his family were very helpful during his recovery. When asked if he recalled a major turning point in his rehabilitation, he shared that when his therapists and the hospital staff started saying how much better he was doing, he knew he must be improving. Dominic added that he greatly enjoyed his time with his therapists stating, “I’m going to miss all of them.”

Upon discharge, Dominic shared, “I’m looking forward to sitting outside and enjoying my property again.”

Dominic offered these parting words of advice to others on the road to recovery: “Keep a positive attitude, don’t give up hope, keep yourself strong and you’ll get better.”