By Natalie Leung
Bill Hyman with Vanessa King, Rehabilitation Assistant, at the Stroke and Neuro Clinic (Photo by Katie Cooper, Medical Media Centre)
(September 15, 2020) - Earlier this year, Bill Hyman underwent spinal cord surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital. It was his second spinal cord surgery in approximately ten years – both operations addressed his chronic pain and limited mobility.
Because of his previous experience, Mr. Hyman knew what came next: rehabilitation. And so recently Mr. Hyman found himself in a familiar place, Providence Healthcare, the same hospital that had helped him work his way out of a wheelchair and walk again after his first surgery.
“I can’t say enough good things about the place – the food is even decent,” Mr. Hyman says with a laugh. “When you need a little push because you are being lazy, they give you that push. It’s great.”
One thing had changed about Providence this time. Since Providence and St. Michael’s Hospital are now part of the same hospital network (they amalgamated several years ago, along with St. Joseph’s Health Centre, to become Unity Health Toronto), there was a smooth transition between the surgical teams at St. Michael’s and the rehabilitation teams at Providence.
At Providence, rehabilitation patients have access to a talented interprofessional team including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, therapeutic recreationists, speech language pathologists and more. They can also consult with other specialists, like orthotists and prosthetists, who visit the hospital on a regular basis.
Although this is his second time learning how to walk again, Mr. Hyman is motivated.
“You can sit and wallow and feel self-pity, but what good is that going to give you? You need to stay positive and keep upbeat.”
Mr. Hyman has visited the Stroke and Neuro Clinic for several weeks and has made great progress as an outpatient. He recently trialed a type of knee brace called a Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis (KAFO), which let him take steps for the first time since his surgery.
Abigail Kavanaugh, Physiotherapist at the Stroke and Neuro Clinic, says his dedication is inspiring and she looks forward to helping him move forward with his recovery.
“Patients at our clinic are far enough along in their medical journey that we can help them with what they want to work on. Seeing them achieve their goals is pretty rewarding,” said Kavanaugh. “I hope for Bill that he has more walking in his future.”
Mr. Hyman is now being fitted for a custom KAFO and is hopeful he will be walking again in a few months.
Whenever Mr. Hyman starts to feel discouraged, he thinks about what he will do when he is finished rehab – going to a baseball game or heading to a boardwalk to enjoy the weather. He is thankful for the support he has received at Providence.
“If I didn’t have rehab at Providence, I would be in a wheelchair and be stuck in it. They mean the world to me.”