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The Power of Physical Therapy

physical therapy helped patient overcome injuries

The power of physical therapy can be life-changing and in the case of Florida patient Olivia, it can make the difference between merely surviving and thriving. Last August, Olivia and her father were in a car accident. They were both rescued from the car and taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where Olivia arrived to be placed on a ventilator. Her injuries were extensive and included 15 different trauma sites including a shattered pelvis, broken clavicle and scapula, and multiple spinal fractures.

During her 20-day hospital say, she underwent life-saving procedures and care. When PT Solutions first met Olivia in acute care, it took three therapists to sit her up on the edge of the bed due to her severe pain and weakness. “During her time in acute care, Olivia was extremely positive, motivated, and handled the extreme amount of pain she was in phenomenally well. Our staff assisted with coordinating efforts to allow Olivia and her father to visit each other in the same room, as they initially weren’t able to see each other for quite some time after the accident,” Amare Emerson, one of Olivia’s physical therapists said. “It was amazing to see the connection that the two shared and how much they motivated each other.”

Olivia’s father was also in critical condition in a room nearby. He worked with PT Solutions acute care team before he was transferred to Atlanta’s Shepard Center.

After making stable progress in the ICU and acute care, Olivia was transferred to The Rehabilitation Institute of Northwest Florida, a PT Solutions partnered inpatient rehab. While she was non-weight bearing in her left arm and both legs and had a large external fixator holding her pelvis together (which she lovingly named Gladys), Olivia remained her chipper, motivated self. Through severe and constant pain, she learned how to get out of bed on her own, transfer from her bed to her wheelchair, roll her wheelchair, and shower and bathe herself. She even learned how to self-catheterize herself so she could stop wearing a bladder bag. Olivia’s motivation knew no bounds.

Her physical therapist in inpatient rehab Brooke Rovillo said, “Olivia is the most motivated and resilient person I have ever met. She worked extremely hard despite significant nerve pain and mastered the art of the slideboard transfer. She was not only extremely self-motivating, but she motivated each and every patient she encountered in the hallway or therapy gym. I’m so proud to be a part of her recovery.”

After a month in inpatient rehab, Olivia was able to go home. She wrote to us saying, “My physical therapists became some of my biggest supporters as they pushed me to overcome obstacles that at the time seemed incredibly overwhelming. Their motivation and support helped me persevere through the emotional, mental, and physical challenges that became apparent after the accident. Not only did they help me physically, but also encouraged me mentally and emotionally that I could do hard things! This emotional and mental care allowed me to not only overcome the physical aspects of healing but the mental portion as well. My physical therapists were not only a large part of my recovery journey but also became some of my biggest supporters and friends throughout the whole process, for that, I am forever thankful for these amazing therapists.

In November, Olivia’s external fixator ‘Gladys’ was finally able to come off, and she was cleared by her physician to walk. Her family stood nervously around the kitchen cheering her on as she took her first independent steps saying her legs felt like jello. Olivia continued to work hard in outpatient therapy and even went on to run the Emerald Coast MudRun for Orphans in May of this year.

We are beyond happy and proud to report that both Olivia and her father have returned to walking and leading fulfilling lives. Olivia’s latest accomplishment was re-applying and getting into nursing school this fall after having to drop out of her program due to her injuries last year. Congratulations to the entire therapy team for making Olivia Unstoppable again!


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