Independence Begins at Home

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy

Cooking, laundry and light housekeeping – it seems like a typical day in a pleasant neighborhood on the edge of Belmont Heights. But inside this everyday-looking Spanish Craftsman-style home, people like Roxana Valencia are working hard to adapt to these everyday activities.

The 4,000-square-foot home is where Long Beach Memorial’s Transitional Rehabilitation Services (TRS) resides. Offering coordinated care for patients recovering from disabling strokes, brain tumors, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries, TRS is the only home-based rehabilitation facility of its kind in Los Angeles County. Here, patients refine skills and complete tasks they’ll use in real life.

“We realize the frustration that patients feel after a stroke or any neurological injury. Basic activities of daily living that we take for granted become a major challenge,” says Darryl McIver, program case manager and clinical supervisor at TRS. “We apply all of our clinical expertise in a non-clinical, homelike environment. In addition to standard rehabilitation, we have patients practice putting away groceries or using public transportation – whatever their daily routine involved. Our program helps them relearn basic skills they’ll need to reenter the community.”

Getting Back Online

Every year, nearly 800,000 people suffer from a stroke or “brain attack,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Roxana cannot recall all of the details from the day of her stroke. She remembers waking up with a severe headache, thinking it was nothing. As she tried to get out of bed her legs gave out, she collapsed and lost consciousness.

“After I left the hospital, I remember feeling helpless. Even the simplest things like walking up a stairwell seemed impossible. I wanted my life back,” says Roxana.

A determined Roxana began therapy from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. three days a week at the TRS house. She worked with speech, occupational health and physical therapists to learn how to overcome the weakness on the right side of her body, one of the effects of the stroke. Focused on her goal of returning to work, her experienced TRS team customized Roxana’s therapy to fit her specific needs.

“Along with doing strength training in the backyard of the house to help with Roxana’s coordination, we concentrated on exercises that mimicked her computerbased job responsibilities,” says McIver. “We deliberately held her speech and physical training sessions in the busy dining room where people were constantly walking in, simulating the distractions of her work environment. It makes such a difference to the recovery process when patients are in a real-world setting.”

Lifelong Bonds

After intense, personalized therapy, Roxana returned to work full-time as an administrative analyst for the city of Long Beach. She will always be grateful to the dedicated team of therapists at TRS for helping her achieve her goal and restoring her self-confidence.

“Recovering after my stroke was one of the hardest chapters in my life. It took a lot of hard work – that exercise ball became my best friend! My TRS therapists kept pushing and encouraging me, and I learned to trust them. They helped me learn to live again,” says Roxana.