Inpatient rehab helps mother of two walk sooner, get home quicker

Mar 12, 2019


Acute Care Rehabilitation offers physical, occupational and speech therapies in a hospital setting

Candice Hughes arrived at the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Candler Hospital with a long journey ahead of her. She couldn’t walk, dress herself or feed herself without assistance. But Candice was determined and motivated to regain her independence.

Candice’s journey began in early 2018. She was working as a correctional officer at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville when she was assaulted by an inmate. An MRI revealed a tumor on her spinal cord. Candice had two surgeries in December to remove the benign tumor and drain fluid that had built up outside her spinal cord.

Candice Hughes (right) with St. Joseph's/Candler Physical Therapist Nina CrossThe surgeries left her debilitated. She couldn’t feed herself, dress herself or even walk. She needed assistance just getting out of bed. Candice began inpatient rehab on the Acute Rehabilitation Unit on Dec. 14. The 39-year-old mother of two was motivated to get better and get home to her kids.

“I knew I wanted to get better, but if I didn’t have the right attitude to get better, I knew I wouldn’t ever do it,” Candice says. “Every day was a different challenge but every little challenge made a difference each day.”

Candice would stay on the Acute Rehab Unit for 33 days, much longer than the average stay of two weeks. She worked with physical and occupational therapists three hours a day, six days a week to strengthen her core, arms and legs. She did exercises using weights and walked the parallel bars and stairs with a harness and eventually a walker. She practiced baking a cake and riding a bike.

It wasn’t long before Candice was taking 10 steps and then 20. Fellow patients in the rehab’s gym would clap and cheer her on. Candice’s confidence began to grow. Of course, there were some days she’d cry, but she never gave up.

“I just had the mindset that I was going to get better,” Candice says. “I was not fixing to go to a nursing home or sit around and collect a check. I’m going back to being a correctional officer. I want to watch my little boy play soccer and walk my daughter across the football field when she has all her graduation events.”

Candice says she is forever grateful for the staff on the inpatient rehab unit that pushed her to reach her goals.

“I looked forward to getting out of bed every day and coming down to the gym,” Candice says. “The rehab staff here is absolutely excellent. There is not one person that I could say anything bad about. They just made me feel so much better.”

More about Acute Inpatient Rehab at St. Joseph’s/Candler

Acute rehab is a program for patients who have experienced serious illness, such as a stroke, orthopedic surgeries, such as knee or hip replacements, or an accident that has affected their ability to function as before, explains Kevin Outzs, MSOTR/L, clinical manager for inpatient rehab at Candler Hospital.

Related Article: Rehabilitation after a stroke can help with symptoms, improve quality of life

St. Joseph’s/Candler has Acute Rehabilitation Units at both St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital. Both are accredited by the highest level awarded by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. A multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, dietitians and pastoral care work with each patient to reach his or her goal.

“We work with you on a specific goal whether it’s to get back home to your kids or get back to work as soon as possible or be able to walk the aisle of the grocery store,” Outzs says. “It keeps patients motivated and encouraged to see you have a dedicated team just there for you.”

There are some criteria to be eligible for inpatient rehab including being medically stable enough to participate in three hours of intensive therapy for at least five days a week. The three hours are not in a row, but spread out over the course of day, Outzs explains. Some patients may have a physical therapy session in the morning, with an hour of speech and occupational therapies in the afternoon. The rehab team works with each patient’s needs to create a schedule.

Physical therapists work with patients doing exercises standing, sitting or even laying down on a mat. Occupational therapy focuses on daily living activities, whether it’s stepping into the shower or maneuvering around a kitchen. Speech therapists can help with swallowing and cognitive abilities.

“Three hours a day, even though it’s not in a row, still may be more than you’ve done before your injury or illness, so we know it can be a lot,” Outzs says. “We are going to work on your pace and what you can tolerate.”

Learn more about Acute Care Rehabilitation

Transitional Care Unit

For those patients who are not quite ready for three hours of intensive therapy a day, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Candler Hospital both have Transitional Care Units. These are considered step-down units from other areas in the hospital.

The multi-disciplinary team also works with these patients to either get them home as soon as possible or transition to the Acute Rehab Unit for further rehab. These patients typically have an hour or two of rehab five to six days a week.

In addition, the rehab team can make recommendations for home health care and/or outpatient rehab once a patient is discharged.

“What you get at St. Joseph’s/Candler that you may not get at other places is a dedicated team that has years of experience working with multiple diagnoses and multiple types of patients,” Outzs says. “We have a team where everybody is smiling and is pleasant and wants to get you well.”

Interested in a tour of our Acute Rehabilitation Units? Call 912-819-6511 for a tour of the Candler Hospital facility and 912-819-3343 to tour St. Joseph’s Hospital inpatient rehab.  Ask for the clinical liaison.

How can we help you?