Jeffrey St. Amant dedicated his days to work and family. The 38-year-old Slidell resident worked hard in construction and together with his wife, Jessica, took care of the needs of their three children ranging from two to nine.
However, his life became derailed after breaking his right ankle. He was unable to return to work when soon after his injury, he surprisingly began experiencing back pain and weakness in his legs. At first a slow progression, his pain and weakness eventually caused numbness from the waist down. Alarmingly, he was unable to lift his left leg and a cane was necessary for walking.
After his doctor’s evaluation, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal which can cause pain, numbness and weakness to the arms and legs.
Jeffrey had surgery on several spinal segments to create space for the spinal nerves and to relieve his symptoms. After the surgery, sensation returned in his left leg, but he was still unable to move his right leg. Following his recovery from the surgery, Jeffrey and Jessica consulted with his doctors and determined that Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital would be the best choice to continue his recovery.
Upon admittance to Northshore, he was unable to sit, walk or perform any self-care tasks independently. Working with his physician-led care team, he immediately set a goal for himself to regain his mobility with the hope of eventually getting back to work.
His first challenge was getting out of bed. With the guidance of his physical therapist, Jeffrey moved to the edge of the bed and learned how to transfer to a wheelchair with the assistance of a lift device. Soon, however, Jeffrey quickly managed without the lift’s assistance.
Jeffrey worked hard to progress towards his walking goal. His team introduced him to the parallel bars where he progressed to standing. Later, he used the therapy gym’s overhead track and harness system to support him while walking with the rolling walker.
After 28 days of practicing walking, performing leg exercises with therabands and strengthening his leg muscles on the stepper machine, Jeffrey was able to walk 50 feet with a rolling walker and minimal assistance. These successes only added to his confidence that he would be able to walk again.
Jeffrey also wanted to improve his self-care skills. On admission, he was unable to do anything for himself other than eating and brushing his teeth, and even those tasks were difficult. His occupational therapist familiarized him with adaptive equipment (such as a reacher and sock helper) to aid him in getting dressed. During other occupational therapy sessions, Jeffrey worked on increasing his functional endurance using free weights, therabands and the upper extremity arm bike. After four weeks, Jeffrey was able to get out of bed and perform all of his self-care tasks independently.
Jeffrey credits his wife, Jessica, and his children for their role in his recovery. “Jessica was here every day,” he says. He discharged home, was looking forward to spending time with his family, and plans to continue working on rebuilding his strength through outpatient therapy.
When asked if he learned anything new about himself, Jeffrey states, “Yes, I learned that no matter how rough things are, I can do it. Once you get past that mental block, you can do anything.”
Jeffrey also had this advice to offer anyone considering Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital: “Trust the people here, they will get you better. They know what they’re doing.”
He summarized his experience by saying, “I don’t have enough words to describe this amazing place or the people here. All the doctors, nurses and therapists are great. I couldn’t have ended up in a better place with better people for my recovery.”