Terry's Story

Terry Gates smiles after therapy.

Terry Gates lives in Hammond, LA with her husband and their five beloved dogs. However, life took an unexpected turn when she began experiencing alarming symptoms such as dizziness, clumsiness and impaired hand function, which resulted in multiple falls.

After various medical consultations and numerous tests, she finally received a definitive diagnosis of severe spinal stenosis in her neck. As she learned, spinal stenosis is the narrowing of one or more spaces within the spinal canal. Terry underwent cervical decompression surgery and after a two-day stay in the Intensive Care Unit, it was clear she required specialized rehabilitative care to regain her lost strength and independence. Terry’s medical team recommended Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital to continue her recovery.

Upon arrival at Northshore, the physician-led rehabilitation team worked with Terry to put a treatment plan in place. Terry faced significant challenges but she wanted to get back to life. She was unable to perform basic self-care tasks, stand or walk. Initially discouraged, she found inspiration in a fellow patient, a 99-year-old individual with spirit and determination who motivated Terry to hold fast to her own dream of independence.

Under the guidance of her physical therapists, she started with the parallel bars. Once she gained the strength, she gradually transitioning to a walker. Physical therapy also directed her in daily leg exercises, utilizing therabands, ankle weights and the stair stepper machine to enhance her leg strength and coordination. Terry ultimately was walking unassisted with the aid of a rolling walker (and some therapist supervision).

The occupational therapy team addressed Terry’s hand and arm strength and coordination issues. Therapists employed therabands, free weights and therapy putty to boost her upper extremity strength and fine motor control. Additionally, they worked with Terry to enhance her selfcare abilities, covering dressing, bathing and bed mobility. The introduction of adaptive devices like a reacher and sock helper made daily tasks more manageable. By discharge, Terry could independently perform all her selfcare activities.

During Terry’s sixteen days in inpatient rehabilitation, she achieved significant milestones. A turning point came when her husband witnessed her standing unaided—a moment that motivated her to keep pushing forward. When asked about her experience, Terry responded, “Ya’ll are so awesome! I have a whole new outlook on therapy.” Ready to go home, Terry is looking forward to reuniting with her husband and her dogs, and plans to continue her recovery with outpatient therapy.

Terry shared this advice to others on a health journey: “Don’t give up! The more you put in, the more you get out."