In August 2015, Joe H. was golfing with his son when he bent down to put a ball on the tee and experienced excruciating neck pain. He had his son drive him to the emergency room and, after multiple tests were taken, he was informed that he had a fractured neck caused by cancer. Joe was diagnosed with multiple myeloma—a cancer that can result in bone weakening and destruction.
This diagnosis was the beginning of a whirlwind journey for Joe, including radiation treatment, chemotherapy, and a C1-C7 cervical fusion surgery in his neck—which was followed by another surgery for an infection that developed from the initial surgery. Complications also arose during treatment, including digestive problems, a bacterial infection, pneumonia, a blood clot in his leg, and, at one point, Joe died and was brought back to life. At his lowest point, Joe’s body had deteriorated in such a way that he required total life support and tracheotomy.
But the former physical education teacher fought hard to improve. He moved from the hospital into a nursing home, and then a group home where his case manager referred him to The Recovery Project. Driven by the idea of teaching again, playing golf and walking without an assisted device, Joe ultimately wants to live independently and make a full recovery—a goal his therapists at The Recovery Project feel is absolutely attainable.
At The Recovery Project, Joe used a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike to advance his strength and motor function, and a body-weight supported treadmill to improve gait quality and endurance. Stretching, strength and balance training were also key components of his workouts.
Over the course of his time at The Recovery Project, Joe’s progress has been incredible. At his initial evaluation in August 2016, he could only walk 553 feet with a wheeled walker in six minutes. By March 2017, he had progressed to 1337 feet. Joe is able to walk unassisted when supervised by his therapists and can perform high-level balance activities like dribbling a basketball again and even swinging a golf club!