Diane Cioffi’s road to outpatient short-term rehab began with a shoe.
“I bent down to tie my son’s shoe,” Mrs. Cioffi says, “and the room began to spin.”
That simple, everyday task resulted in herniated discs. Compounded by slight osteoporosis, twinges and back pain developed. Surgery wasn’t warranted, but short-term rehab was a viable treatment option.
After reviewing X-rays and medical history, and with input from Mrs. Cioffi, Christian Health Care Center’s (CHCC) short-term outpatient rehab staff developed an individualized treatment program aimed at boosting muscle strength and bone health.
“Achieving this goal would involve more than just physical exercise,” says Laurie Glass, PTA, C-IAYT, Mrs. Cioffi’s lead therapist. “Improving body mechanics, posture, walking, breathing, and nutrition were also important components of her treatment.”
Short-term rehab at CHCC, both inpatient and outpatient, is beneficial for patients like Mrs. Cioffi who have a chronic illness or condition, as well as individuals who have had surgery or a joint replacement; or are recovering from a stroke, cardiac surgery, or pneumonia.
The first few rehab sessions focused on learning stretches, and site-specific and gentle core exercises. Increased intensity using resistance bands, total-body balance balls, weight-bearing exercises, breathing and relaxation, and balance activities were gradually incorporated into the treatment plan.
“Rehab plans are truly custom-fit for each patient,” says Mrs. Cioffi, whose therapy took place in CHCC’s 14,000-square-foot, high-tech Bolger Rehab Gym & Wellness Center. “The staff is very attentive, accommodating, motivating, and pleasant.”
By the third week, pain and twinges began to subside.
“During rehab, I became much more aware of posture when I’m sitting and standing. I can feel my spine expand, and I feel so much better,” says Mrs. Cioffi, 65, who has been an avid walker for years. “I have a tendency to sit hunched over at my desk. Now I remind myself to sit up straight, keep paperwork in front of me to minimize rotation of my spine, use a pillow to support my lower back, and get up every so often. My walking stance was just as poor. I try to make sure that my shoulders are back and my posture is straight. Laurie suggested that I slow my pace because I was walking too quickly doing normal activities. I know that I have to be more cautious.”
“Walking is an amazing exercise for an individual with osteoporosis,” says Ms. Glass, who is a certified Sara Meeks Osteoporosis Exercise Specialist. “Here is a patient who already is walking an hour a day, but her body mechanics were preventing her from reaping the benefits. We worked on awareness of walking posture and opening her stride to improve weight bearing to her hips. We also added hamstring stretches to her walking program because when muscles are tight, they pull on the bone.”
Good bone health can also be boosted by proper nutrition. Ms. Glass, who is working toward graduate certification in nutrition, provided Mrs. Cioffi with food selections and recipes. Now, her diet includes more fish and vegetables, particularly green leafy selections, and less red meat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates.
After 24 sessions, Mrs. Cioffi was discharged, armed with an exercise regimen to keep twinges and pain at bay, and educational pamphlets for reference. If she has a question or needs advice, assistance is just down the hall: Mrs. Cioffi is CHCC’s Pastoral Care Administrative Assistant.
“It’s not just a benefit for me because I’m a CHCC employee. All former patients are invited to stop by or call,” Mrs. Cioffi says. “Rehab doesn’t end with a goodbye and good luck. This opportunity for follow-up is important.”