Beverly's story

Beverly DeMars wearing a printed shirt while wearing a neck brace and smiling.

Beverly DeMars, 66, is a retired widow who lives with her son and enjoys watching TV and movies. She loves spending time with her granddaughter, Sophia, who she calls “the love of her life,” as well as her dog, Cash. 

Beverly was at home cleaning one day when she went downstairs to put some meat on the grill. While outside, she turned and her right knee buckled. Beverly first landed on the concrete before hitting her head on the door. She was rushed to SSM Health DePaul Hospital where she underwent a CAT scan, MRI, x-rays and a number of blood tests. Results showed Beverly had suffered a fracture of her cervical spine and bruising of the cervical spinal cord. Her injuries resulted in tetraparesis, is a condition in which all four of a patient’s limbs suffer muscle weakness. 

While Beverly did not require surgery, her fall left her unable to walk or use her right arm or hand. It was recommended that Beverly undergo intensive inpatient rehabilitation to help regain strength, mobility and independence. When SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton was suggested, Beverly was agreeable as she had heard good things about the hospital and knew that a friend’s mother had previously had a good experience.

Upon admission, she required the use of a Hoyer lift, a hydraulic mobility tool that allows a person to be lifted and moved via a sling. Beverly also had very limited range of motion, strength and fine motor abilities in her arms, requiring total assistance to complete self-care tasks, including bathing, dressing and using the bathroom. Her goals were to re-learn how to walk and to regain the use of her arms and legs so she could return home safely. Beverly’s physician-led care team, including physical and occupational therapists, devised a plan to help her reach her goals. 

The focus of Beverly’s physical therapy sessions were to strengthen her legs to prevent knee buckling as well as improve balance and walking ability. Once able to get in and out of bed with assistance, Beverly quickly progressed to standing and walking in the parallel bars. With continued practice, Beverly progressed to walking up to 200 feet with a walker with only limited assistance. Her physical therapy sessions also included going up and down stairs and ramps. This practice was especially important as Beverly’s family arranged to have a ramp installed at her home for improved safety. 

In occupational therapy, Beverly and her team worked on improving her overall strength and endurance, particularly in her upper body so that she could perform personal care tasks. They utilized a variety of equipment, including weights and resistance bands, to help the larger muscle groups. To regain use of her hands, therapists guided Beverly in activities to improve fine motor skills, including tasks that focused on grasping small objects. Beverly’s hard work paid off. By the time she was ready to go home, she could complete self-care tasks without assistance, only requiring one person to stand nearby in case she lost her balance. Beverly also regained full range of motion in both her arms and made “tremendous” improvements in her overall strength. 

After 22 days at SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton, Beverly made excellent progress. She was excited to return home to see her son, granddaughter and dog and sleep in her own bed. She was grateful for the support of her family, friends and neighbors, who regularly checked in on her during her hospital stay and were preparing to help her out when she got home. 

Beverly will be building upon the gains she made in inpatient rehabilitation by continuing with outpatient and home health therapy. “I am stronger than I thought,” Beverly said when asked what her ordeal has taught her. “The therapy and rehab were wonderful. I would recommend this place to anyone who needs it.”