Coming Back Strong: Rehab Restores Mary Lou Paris’s Quality of Life

Steven L. Vagnino | August 27, 2015

Last spring, 85-year-old Mary Lou Paris was living an independent lifestyle in Alton, Illinois, enjoying her two-story home and driving. But one day, she contracted a severe, life threatening form of gangrene.

Mary Lou was rushed to the hospital. She soon required nine surgeries over 12 days to remove the damaged tissue and remained bedridden with almost no physical activity for close to two months.MLP2

“When she was admitted to Bethesda Dilworth Rehab and Therapy Center, she was so weak she had to be lifted in and out of bed and was unable to stand, walk or even sit up without support,” said Erin Wuerz, PT, Senior Program Director. In addition to requiring extensive surgical wound care, Mary Lou needed physical and occupational therapy so she could recover and regain her strength.

A Supportive Therapy Team

A therapy team worked with Mary Lou in two sessions a day, six days a week, encouraging her to regain her strength and life skills. “Sometimes I just didn’t want to do it,” Mary Lou confesses. “I even told them to get out once, but they kept coming back.”

In addition to the therapies, she received skilled nursing services, nutritional support, and counseling to make sure she continued to heal and get stronger. Her wounds, once large and deep, completely healed. By the date of her discharge, she was able to walk over 150 feet with a walker, dress and groom herself, and move from her bed to chair independently.MLP

“They Gave Me Courage”

On her last day at Bethesda Dilworth, Mary Lou made brownies with her occupational therapist to share with the staff to thank them for all their help and support. Mary Lou is now looking forward to her new life at an assisted living community in her area. “The girls gave me the courage and confidence to believe I could get my energy back,” said Mary Lou about her therapy team. “I’ll miss them but I don’t want to come back…except to visit,” she said smiling.

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