Eddie’s story

St. Louis resident Lewis “Eddie” Jones, 67, had a full life as a husband, father of three and a career as an educator at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. However, things changed dramatically in July, when he suffered a stroke as he was bicycling to work.

Eddie was rushed to the hospital, where he was put on a ventilator, then underwent a tracheotomy. The stroke had affected the left side of his body as well as his ability to walk and swallow. After spending over a month in the hospital to stabilize, Eddie was transferred to SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton to continue his recovery.

Upon arrival, Eddie was unable to move his left leg and required maximum assistance to get in and out of bed and for all of his personal care. His goals were simple, but not easy to accomplish – “I wanted to live independently and do what I used to do,” Eddie stated. His physician-led care team, which included physical, occupational and speech therapists, helped devise a plan to help get him there.

Eddie’s physical therapists worked to help him re-learn to sit, stand and then walk with assistance. He began by only walking four feet at a time, but worked tirelessly to make progress each day.  His therapists noted that Eddie was always extremely driven, positive and hard-working. He was constantly looking for new ways to improve while working through a variety of strengthening exercises to regain the use of his left arm and leg.

When Eddie came to SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton, he was unable to eat or drink safely and had to receive all nutrition from a feeding tube. In his speech therapy sessions, therapists worked with Eddie on breath support and swallowing exercises while using electrical stimulation.

Occupational therapists worked with Eddie to use adaptive equipment for bathing and dressing as well as exercises to improve his core stability and sitting balance. For example, the SaeboMAS, a mobile zero gravity upper extremity device, and Armeo Spring, a robotic device that provides arm support for training and therapy via game-like 3D exercises on a screen, helped Eddie stay motivated and make progress toward his goals.

Eddie’s family played a large role in his recovery as well, helping to keep his spirits high. They underwent family training to learn how to safely assist Eddie once he returned home. “They modified our house for me, adjusted their lifestyle and visited me every day,” he said.

After 37 days at SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton, Eddie was able to walk 100 feet with assistance and move his left leg independently. His tracheostomy tube had been removed and he could breathe and swallow on his own. Eddie required only minimal assistance for most of his personal care, including bathing and dressing. He describes his experience at the hospital as “very good,” adding that “the staff were all very professional and friendly.”

Eddie plans to continue his recovery with the SSM Health Day Institute and is looking forward to returning home to his family. He has a new appreciation for his health as well as his family and looks forward to progressing toward independence.