Harry's Story

Patient Harry Vorhaben sitting up on the edge of his hospital bed after recovering from a hip fracture.

As a retired emergency department physician, Harry Vorhaben, 74, knows how devastating a fall can be, especially when you’re older. So when he took a tumble and landed on his right hip, he immediately went for X-rays but the scans did not show a break. Three weeks later, however, Harry suffered a spontaneous high right femur fracture. He immediately underwent surgery and spent the next four days in the hospital recovering. During his hospital stay, Harry attempted to participate in physical therapy, but severe pain limited his participation.

As Harry prepared for discharge, his case manager suggested he consider going to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital to continue healing and recovering. Several of Harry’s close acquaintances highly recommended Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, making the decision easy for him.

Upon admission, Harry’s goals were to bear weight on his leg again, stand up without assistance, transfer in and out of the bed and get to the bathroom on his own. His physician-led team of nurses and therapists worked to help get him there.

In occupational therapy, therapists helped Harry use a variety of assistive devices, including a leg lifter, which is helpful for patients with a hip injury who have weakened hip flexors. The leg lifter helped Harry move in and out of bed while also strengthening his upper body. He also used the leg lifter to help bend his knee while seated in the wheelchair. Harry’s therapists also taught him new ways of getting dressed and going to the bathroom, including using a bedside commode and rolling walker for his transfers.

Physical therapists worked with Harry to improve endurance, strength and range of motion using a seated stepper. “It was excellent to help me warm up before I started therapy,” Harry said of the equipment. He also credits his wife, Mary, in playing a large role in his recovery. “She was by my side every day and participated in two sessions of family training so she could learn how to help better care for me at home.”

During his third day at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, Harry began to feel a significant physical change and improvement in his energy. He recalls this being his turning point, knowing that he’d be able to make a full recovery.

After 10 days, Harry made significant improvement in his ability to bear weight on his right leg and be independent in conducting his personal care. While he was still working toward walking independently, Harry was able to use a walker by the time he was discharged.

Harry views his time at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital as an important step in his recovery. “My experience was been better than I ever expected, and I received exceptional service throughout my entire stay. The staff was so friendly and prompt in responding to the call button, which is especially helpful when it comes to going to the bathroom.”

He acknowledges that a recovery from a fall at age 74 is tough. “It might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The older you get, the harder recovery is.” When asked if he has advice for people facing a similar rehabilitation journey, Harry jokingly says, “Don’t fall!” adding, “Follow your therapists’ advice and do every exercise they ask you to do to your fullest abilities.”

Harry looks forward to getting back to his activities of playing golf, going to the gym, working in the garden and enjoying his lounge chair.