Succeeding Where Others Failed

Advanced treatment protocol produces results in challenging cases.

They’re quite common now, but in the early 1970s the first mixed-use skyscraper offering residential, office and retail space was built across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The money behind that project belonged to Aristotle Onassis, a Greek shipping magnate who named the iconic glass-walled building Olympic Tower and hired Joseph Martin to ensure that every apartment, shop and office met his high standards for quality and luxury.

Joseph Martin

Joseph Martin

“I was a project manager, and it was my job to make sure everything was just as it was supposed to be,” Joseph explains. “If something wasn’t right, it was on me to make sure the contractor fixed it and got it right.”

Joseph, 81, later worked in a similar capacity for Donald Trump, overseeing the final touches on an apartment building Trump built along the West Side Highway. Around that same time, Joseph began to suffer from a health issue that would soon force him to retire.

“I started having problems with my legs and feet,” Joseph divulges. “I was retaining fluid and they would become very swollen, painful and numb. At first it wasn’t all that bad. I could deal with it. But as time went on, it got worse and worse.”

The condition, lymphedema, is caused by damage or a blockage in the lymph system and results in a buildup of fluid in soft tissue. At its worst, it all but crippled Joseph.

“It got so bad I had to use a walker to get around. Even then, I had to sit down every 10 or 15 minutes because my feet hurt so bad,” Joseph relates. “The worst thing was, no matter what treatment anyone tried, it never got any better.”

Joseph was told he would have to live with his symptoms forever, and for a while he was resolved to do just that. Then a friend suggested he visit Regional Rehab and see what the physical therapists there could do for him.

Advanced Modalities

At Regional Rehab, Joseph was initially examined by owner Charles C. Donley, PT. Following his examination, Charles suggested treatment using two advanced modalities: the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser and the HIVAMAT® 200 deep oscillation therapy device.

The laser uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal cells. It works by releasing nitric oxide, which removes congestion and swelling, promotes rapid healing and reduces discomfort while increasing blood circulation.

The HIVAMAT 200 creates gentle impulses that relax muscles and penetrate all tissue layers to remove the inflammatory byproducts that cause pain in cells. Combined, the two devices provided Joseph with relief the likes of which he had yet to experience.

“When I first went to Regional Rehab, my legs and feet were so swollen I couldn’t even put on a pair of sneakers or walk on my own,” Joseph laments. “But after the first treatment I felt better, and I just continued to feel better after each additional treatment.

“Now, I’m walking on my own and walking normally again. Some days, I still get some swelling, but it’s nothing like I used to get, and by the time I get up the next day, it’s gone. 

“Thanks to the folks at Regional Rehab, I feel great. I highly recommend them because they did the best thing in the world for me. I’m doing everything I couldn’t do before.”

Melinda’s Saga

Great would not accurately describe the way Melinda Gil feels, but the 37-year-old mother of three who has been struck down by a disorder doctors have yet to define feels significantly better since discovering Regional Rehab.

Melinda’s saga began in March 2020, when a sudden lack of feeling in her thighs, calves and feet caused her to fall several times while attempting to get out of bed or stand up after she had been sitting for a period of time.

A series of hospital stays followed, but outside of discovering and correcting a vitamin B12 deficiency that had simultaneously caused some brain fog, physicians could not nail down a definitive cause for the lack of feeling in Melinda’s legs. 

Melinda Gil

Melinda Gil

Melinda began using a wheelchair after one neurologist suggested the problem could be multiple sclerosis or transverse myelitis, a disorder that disrupts the flow of messages from the spinal cord to the rest of the body.

At the same time, she began a physical therapy program; however, the results were poor. In June 2021 she visited Regional Rehab, where rehab director Paul A. Ernandes, PT, PHD, evaluated her and immediately questioned the suggestion that she had MS.

“The strange thing about Melinda’s illness is that her weakness only runs from her mid-thighs to her feet,” Paul explains. “MS is not that selective. But to be sure, I suggested she go to (UF Health) Shands Hospital in Gainesville and be evaluated there.”

Melinda agreed, but because the doctors at Shands won’t be able to see her until January 2022, she has continued to visit Regional Rehab, where Maribel Aliaga, PTA, has achieved incredible results using the Class IV laser and HIVAMAT 200.

Long-Term Investment

“When I first went to Regional Rehab, I could not get out of the wheelchair or stand on my own,” Melinda relates. “But now, I can maneuver myself enough to get out of the wheelchair, and I can actually stand and walk as far as 500 feet using a rollator walker.

“I still do most things from my wheelchair, but I have regained some feeling in my legs, so I can stand up and cook and clean for a limited time. I credit Regional Rehab with all of my recovery.

“I’m very fortunate that I have a great support system at home. My husband works from home, so he’s always helping me, and the kids have been very helpful as well during this time. But I don’t know where I’d be if it not for the people at Regional Rehab.

“They’re the only medical professionals that have remained invested in my case and made any difference in my recovery. Thanks to them, I’ve regained a ton of independence and it feels like the nerves are slowly but surely regenerating.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Regional Rehab

      Regional Rehab's ultimate goal is to enrich people’s lives by helping to enhance their physical and mental well being, creating an atmosphere of quality care and optimum healing with a loving touch.... Read More

    • Charles C. Donley, PT

      Charles C. Donley, PT, is the owner of Regional Rehab. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy, graduating cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh. He served on the board of the Hernando County United Way, is a d... Read More

    • Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD

      Paul A. Ernandes, PT, PhD, joined Regional Rehab in April 2018. He previously was director of physical therapy at Vitality Physicians and Rehab and spent 10 years as director of rehabilitation at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville. He has also ... Read More