Back on His Feet

Orthopedic program restores function, mobility and independence.

On Thanksgiving Day 2017, Dante*, 26, didn’t feel much like celebrating. That day, the cell phone salesman and Miami native was the victim in a hit-and-run car accident that left him seriously injured.

“The driver essentially sideswiped my car into a pole,” Dante describes. “It resulted in me having a severe femur fracture up by my right hip. The local hospital couldn’t do anything for me, so they sent me to a trauma hospital where I had surgery.

“After surgery, I was told it would be a while before I could walk again, because I was having a lot of trouble just moving my leg. I couldn’t bend my knee, crouch or even put on my socks or do other things of that nature.”

The staff at the hospital told Dante he needed rehabilitation to regain full mobility. He chose Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Treasure Coast in Vero Beach for his care.

Working as a Team

Because it is a hospital, Encompass Health can offer patients such as Dante a higher level of care than rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.

“Our patients get daily physician visits, round-the-clock certified registered nursing care and experienced therapists to guide them toward their goals,” explains Dawn Bucaj, RN, BSN, senior rehab liaison at Encompass Health. “They deserve that level of care, and Encompass Health is the only provider on the Treasure Coast who can provide it.”

Dawn further notes that patients with orthopedic disorders such as Dante’s can enter Encompass Health’s program from home through self-referral or the referral of a family member or advocate. Those with acute injuries such as Dante’s typically enter from a hospital.

“Either way, it’s important that patients and families ask for Encompass Health by name,” she stresses.

Dante did just that and was evaluated upon his arrival at Encompass Health, where it was determined he required full rehabilitation services to regain mobility and function. At Encompass Health, those goals are achieved through participation in a program that uses a team approach.

“We have a team of providers delivering services to patients in the program,” confirms Dawn. “A typical team includes case managers, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, rehab physicians and primary care physicians. A team such as this worked with Dante.”

The team decided Dante needed physical and occupational therapy to help him better perform activities of daily living. He also required time working on the advanced equipment used to return
patients to walking.

Kelly Shields, CRTT, is the orthopedic navigator at Encompass Health. As part of her job, she aids patients as they progress through the program.

“I pretty much had to learn how to walk all over again, but after five days of rehabilitation, I could do that.” – Dante

“I evaluate patients at all stages and make sure they’re at the correct level of care,” Kelly relates, “and during Dante’s orthopedic rehabilitation, he became a candidate for much of our technology, including the AutoAmbulator®.

“The Auto-Ambulator is a sophisticated treadmill device that uses the concept of therapeutic waves. Dante also used the MOTOmed®, a machine for patients with restricted movement that promotes walking.”

Mobility and Independence

Dante stayed at Encompass Health for less than a week, but in that short period of time, he regained significant mobility and function in his right leg and hip.

“Every day, I had three or four therapy sessions, and I progressed very quickly,” Dante says. “I had to learn how to walk all over again, but after five days of rehabilitation, I could do that.

“When I was done with my therapy, I was able to do most things on my own again. I could go to the bathroom on my own, walk up and down stairs, get in and out of cars and put on my socks by myself.”

The people at Encompass Health made a good and lasting impression on Dante. He says he was treated with kindness and compassion during his stay. He is grateful for the attentiveness of the staff as well as the encouragement and calm reassurance that helped him reach his goals. They made his experience a positive one.

“Everyone at Encompass Health is great,” he states. “They’re very nice, kind people. The staff is phenomenal, and the staff is what makes the company.”

When it was time for Dante to be discharged from Encompass Health, he was ready to resume the life he had before the accident. He wanted to leave the hospital under his own power, but protocol required staff assistance.

“I wasn’t allowed to walk out the door when I left the hospital,” he recalls.” I had to go in a wheelchair. But as soon as I was out the door, I walked the rest of the way. Rehabilitation at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Treasure Coast gave me back my independence. They were awesome.”

*Patient’s name withheld at his request.
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