Susan's Story

Susan Shelley walking during therapy with the parallel bars and her therapist.

Susan Shelley is a 68-year-old retired executive administrative assistant who was enjoying an active lifestyle with her husband, Steve, in Mandeville, Louisiana. When out on a bike ride, she lost her balance over a steep hill along with her bike. Paramedics were called, but it took some time for them to navigate and get Susan onto a stretcher due to a slippery embankment. Susan was then transported and admitted to the local hospital where she had spinal surgery to relieve the pressure on her spinal cord and to fuse several of the vertebrae in her back. After eight days post-surgery, Susan was ready for physical therapy and referred to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital.

Upon arrival, Susan was unable to walk or move her left hand. Her right leg was also very weak and she was unable to manage any basic self-care activities. Susan shared her goal was to get her mobility back. 

Her physical therapy team immediately began exercises which included walking with a walker, working on balance, using ankle weights, electrical stimulation, therapy resistance bands and parallel bars. 

Susan’s occupational therapy also included fine motor strengthening exercises and learning to use tools to help with self-care including aids for helping with dressing and eating. 

Susan shared that a turning point for her in therapy was when she was able to walk with the support of the parallel bars. Another motivating accomplishment for her was when she was able to climb the stairs with assistance.

Susan said her family played a tremendous role in her recovery success, especially Steve.  “He was here for almost all of my meals, provided assistance if I needed it and participated in family training,” recalls Susan. When Steve wasn’t able to be there, another family member was always there to step in. 

At discharge from Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, Susan was able to walk with a walker up to 500 steps and her hand strength greatly improved allowing her to perform self-care activities such as washing her hands and brushing her teeth and hair. She shared, “There is so much positivity and encouragement here that it made me believe that I can do it.”

Susan said she is grateful for the progress that she’s made during her inpatient rehabilitation stay, and she plans to continue her recovery with outpatient physical therapy to get even stronger. In summarizing her experience, Susan stated, “You can’t go wrong with this facility and this staff. They see to your every need.”