RIC Patient Stories - Nov 2013 - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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November 2013 Update:
RIC Patient Stories

Student from Wheaton returns to university after stroke

Maria Diamond, Age 22, of Wheaton, Illinois was home from Notre Dame for a break when she experienced a pounding headache. She went to bed and awoke in the night in immense pain. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where it was discovered she had an arteriovenous malformation.

Maria underwent brain surgery to fix the damage and woke up unable to move, eat, or speak. Her parents consulted family members who were doctors, seeking advice on a location for Maria’s rehabilitation. The choice was pretty clear to them – the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

She was admitted to RIC’s Patient Recovery Unit featuring the world’s first AbilityLab™ – a unique pilot for RIC’s future Research Hospital that integrates clinical and science teams, placing them in the same space surrounding the patients.

Maria's words

“The unit was definitely high-tech,” said Maria about her experience. Her care team included a physician, physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, researchers, and many other specialists with access to state-of-the-art robotics and tools to help Maria regain her ability to walk, talk, eat, and be independent again.

Maria returned to school to study pre-law. She also participated in RIC’s annual fundraising stair climb event, SkyRise Chicago, and climbed with several members of her 9th-floor care team as the ultimate demonstration of her successful recovery.

“I never thought this would happen to me in a million years,” said Maria. “I’m glad I had a place like RIC to help me. I can’t say enough about my care team – they’re so motivating and truly know what it takes to get you better. RIC was amazing.”

Gait research enables SCI military patient to return to base

RIC Gait Training Research

Sgt. Howie Sanborn, Age 31, Ft. Bragg, NC, was always athletic, which is why it was no surprise to anyone when he joined the US Army. He went on to qualify as a member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s elite paratrooper team, serving two years in Iraq.

Howie had participated in multiple marathons and triathlons, and was often seen training with friends around base. One afternoon, he was out on a training ride on his bicycle near base when a driver hit him from behind, ejecting him from his bike, breaking his neck, and injuring his spinal cord. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down and doctors told him he would never walk again.

That was not acceptable to Howie.

He was admitted to RIC’s Patient Recovery Unit featuring the world’s first AbilityLab™ where clinical and research teams integrate around the patients, working side-by-side to solve patient problems and translate science into care faster. It was a perfect match for Howie’s tenacious spirit.

Gait-training research

RIC SCI Patient Howie SanbornWhile an inpatient, he began an intensive gait-training pilot program. That innovative program used the findings of a concurrent research trial underway at RIC and found that high-intensity training earned better results in walking for a longer period of time.

Howie left RIC walking with the assistance of a walker and continues to work hard back on base. He is also training to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in the sport of paratriathlon – a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer ride on a hand cycle, and a 5-kilometer “run" in a racing wheelchair. His goal is to make the national team and win the gold for the US in 2016.

Patients say nursing care important when choosing rehabilitation

When choosing a rehabilitation hospital, a frequent patient question concerns the quality of the nursing care. At RIC, two aspects that assure our patients and families of excellent nursing care are our Magnet Recognition and our advanced nursing education.

Magnet Recognized

RIC was the first free-standing rehabilitation hospital in the country to receive the prestigious Magnet Award for excellence in nursing services by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Magnet Recognition Program recognizes health care organizations that demonstrate excellence in nursing philosophy and practice, adherence to national standards for improving patient care, and leadership and sensitivity to cultural and ethnic diversity.

Research shows that there are clear benefits to hospitals that are awarded Magnet status and to the patients they serve: (1) Magnet hospitals outperform in recruitment and retention of nurses, resulting in increased stability in patient care and positive patient outcomes. (2) As quality nursing is a critical factor in enlisting high-caliber physicians, Magnet quality extends to the entire facility. (3) Health care consumers have confidence in the overall quality of a hospital if it has achieved Magnet level.

Continuing education

Professional development is a major part of RIC’s recognized nursing excellence. Nurses at RIC are encouraged to pursue Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse (CRRN) credentials. More than 40% of eligible RIC nurses are CRRNs – a status that requires two years of rehabilitation nursing experience and an exam. Then that certification must be renewed every five years, with 60 hours of ongoing continuing education, presentation, academic coursework, professional publication, and community service.

To equip our nurses to take the CRRN exam, the RIC Academy recently held of a three-day course entitled, “Rehabilitation Nursing Practice: Review of Principles, Concepts, and Interventions,” providing information for nurses working in various rehabilitation settings or caring for people with disabilities.

This and other upcoming courses, including "Kinetic Chain Evaluation and Functional Exercise" and "Pediatric Gait Analysis: A Segmental Kinematic Approach to Orthotic Management," are listed on the RIC Academy web page.

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