Haedyn Head, 19, lives at home with his family and two beloved Boxer dogs, Samson and Delilah. Haedyn had been struggling at home with symptoms of COVID-19, but when his condition worsened, he admitted to his local hospital. Physicians quickly diagnosed Haedyn with COVID pneumonia and he proceeded to spend the next 40 days in the hospital. Twice during his stay, he was placed on a ventilator and spent a week in intensive care. Once he had improved, Haedyn began to receive some physical therapy to help him regain his endurance. He continued to struggle, only able to get out of bed and sit in a chair for an hour or two.
Haedyn’s stepmother, who works at the hospital, began researching options for the next step in his recovery, looking into which rehabilitation hospital would be the best choice once he was strong enough for intensive rehabilitation. Haedyn and his family had heard that Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital had the best therapists in the area, so they opted to transfer him there.
Upon his arrival at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, Haedyn was unable to sit up or walk unassisted or perform any basic self-care. He was also reliant on three liters of oxygen to assist in his breathing. Haedyn admits he had some anxiety about being able to handle the therapy, but he knew it was important that he put in the effort in order to get better.
Haedyn’s strength and endurance improved as he worked with his physician-led team of nurses, physical and occupational therapists. In physical therapy, Haedyn was led through a variety of leg exercises using resistance bands. Therapists also supervised as he used the stair-stepper equipment and a therapy ball to increase core hip strength. While Haedyn initially had to use the parallel bars for support while practicing his walking, he quickly progressed to using an overhead safety harness to walk without the therapist holding on to him, enabling Haedyn to work on his balance. Eventually, Haedyn began walking, supervised but unassisted, with a rolling walker.
In occupational therapy, Haedyn’s therapists guided him in learning new ways of getting dressed using adaptive reaching devices. His therapists also worked with him on safety techniques for how to shower and use the bathroom. To increase his strength and endurance, Haedyn’s occupational therapists also worked to improve his hand and arms strength with wrist curls and bicep curl. He also practiced wrist exercises using an arm bike, pulleys and weighted exercise bars.
Haedyn says he felt most encouraged when he was able to stand with assistance and walk 10 steps after his first therapy session. He said that is when he realized that it was going to take a lot of work, but that “I knew to get home and get better, I had to do it.”
Haedyn’s family played an important role throughout his recovery experience. “They’ve been with me the entire time. They never gave up on me and they were always there to lift me up and push me.” Haedyn is also pleased with his experience at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital and felt well-prepared to safely return home. “The therapists here made me stronger,” he stated.
By discharge, Haedyn was able to walk and perform all of his self-care independently. In reflecting on his rehabilitation experience, Haedyn said it was important not to give up or to be too hard on himself. He also offered the following advice for anyone facing recovery: “Don’t give up and don’t refuse therapy. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, just go.”