Sholom Resident Recovers from Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Saint Louis Park, Minnesota -
Twin Cities based assisted living community Sholom has received an excellent testimonial from resident Shelly Johnson, who recovered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome at the facility in early 2022. Shelly knew something was wrong long before she fell in her home on in the middle of February. “I was short of breath and got exhausted walking short distances,” she said. “The doctors thought it was Covid, but the tests always came back negative.” After the fall, however, she was transported to Methodist Hospital, where she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. There is no known cause or cure, but therapy helps a patient regain lost functions.
“I basically lost my brain and my nerves,” Shelly said. “I had forgotten how to talk, walk, use my hands, or speak. It was frightening.” After a week in the hospital, she was released to Sholom in St. Louis Park, Minn., for continued therapy. “I don’t remember getting there,” she said, “but I’m very glad I came.”
At Sholom, Shelly began a three-month regimen of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. “Her deficits were severe,” said Meredith McCarthy, who led Shelly’s Physical Therapy team. “By the time she came to us, she had lost 20 pounds, was confused, and had a lack of strength and balance. She even said her tongue hurt.” At the beginning, she had to crawl out of bed, as she couldn’t use her legs. Many times, she would fall. Physical Therapy helped with leg strengthening, coordination, balance, and endurance.
“Shelly was referred to Sholom’s Speech Therapy for dysphagia (swallowing) problems and difficult finding words,” said Mary Knutson, Speech Therapy. “Her greatest challenge was the confusion she had at the beginning of her stay. She would tell me stories that sounded like dreams and would ask, ‘That didn’t happen, did it? It seemed so real.’ We worked on orientation and recall every day, which improved over the first two or three weeks. She was successful because she was determined, always had a positive attitude, trusted us, and always participated in her treatment. Shelly was an awesome patient to treat!”
Stephanie Oelke, who was part of Shelly’s Occupational Therapy team, added, “She had severe whole-body weakness and impaired fine-motor coordination. When she was first admitted, she would be transferred with a Hoyer lift. She needed to be fed because she was unable to use her arms functionally.” Various adaptations to her utensils helped.
At one point, Shelly had the opportunity to move to another rehabilitation facility, but she chose to stay with Sholom because of the staff. “They really know what they’re doing,” she said, “and they are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I never felt alone, as there was someone checking on me all the time. I felt comfortable there.”
Shelly’s speech came back quickly with speech therapy, despite the fact that she was told she mumbled a lot at first. Her biggest challenge was learning to walk up steps again. “At first, I didn’t trust my legs to do that,” she said, “but now I do.” She continues to work on her writing, as hand movements are sometimes the last to improve.
“Shelly’s success has been a result of our intervention plus her positive attitude,” said Meredith. “She always had confidence in the process. She was motivated and willing to try anything. We helped her celebrate the small progress, like sitting up in bed or grabbing a cup with two hands instead of needing a straw.”
“I was raised to believe there was nothing I could not do,” Shelly said, which contributed to her success with therapy. She also credits the staff with positive reinforcement. “Every time I made an improvement, they recognized me for it,” she added. “That was awesome. I can’t applaud the therapists enough.”
Meredith stressed the importance of a team approach to Shelly’s care, from physicians and therapists to all members of the Sholom staff. “There are two keys to any successful recovery from a traumatic medical event,” said Meredith. “We can provide the tools, but the patient must put in the work. I give Shelly a ton of credit. She was a star patient.”
“For individuals going through a difficult time, I definitely would recommend Sholom,” Shelly said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the staff. They were always responsive to my call button and never made me feel like I was a pain in the neck.”
After three months of therapy, Shelly was discharged to her home. Today, she is walking independently with a walker, feeding herself without any utensil adaptations, and regaining her ability to manipulate smaller objects and write with a pen. She will continue to have physical and occupational therapy, as well as some help around her house, but to the Sholom staff, she’ll always be known as “The Star.”
Sholom’s facility is located at 3620 Phillips Pkwy, St Louis Park, MN 55426.
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Jamie Maddeaux - Vice President of Sales & Marketing
3620 Phillips Parkway, St. Louis Park, MN 55426