All posts by Jason Glogau

Wade Ohnheiser

A former patient, Wade Ohnheiser joined the staff at NBRRH. He is seen here receiving the “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Month” award for February 2019.

Wade Ohnheiser, 44, was living a busy life when he suffered a stroke that changed his life forever. Prior to his stroke, Wade worked almost 80 hours per week for an architectural millwork firm. Wade designed, built, and installed custom granite cabinetry for large businesses. Although he lived a busy life, he knew he suffered from high blood pressure. Not feeling symptomatic, Wade didn’t feel the need to take his blood pressure medication. Ultimately, that caused his stroke.

Working in the garage, Wade began to feel different. His right arm and leg would not move and he was unable to speak correctly. Wade thought he was only suffering from exhaustion. Three hours later the symptoms hadn’t subsided. Wade’s family convinced him to go to the hospital. Upon arrival, his blood pressure was 248/198 and the doctors said he suffered from a left basal pontine stroke.

Once medically stable, Wade transferred to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for intense and aggressive therapy. As a result of the stroke, Wade could not walk or use his right hand. Wade was motivated to begin therapy, eager to regain the use of his right side. Wade also had difficulty with his speech, including thought patterns, word finding, and problem-solving.

Wade’s biggest motivation, though, was his 6-year-old daughter. He wanted to return home and make her school lunches again. During his stay, Wade’s daughter had a school play that he did not want to miss. This presented a great opportunity for Wade’s recovery. The therapy staff used the play as an activity which allowed Wade to practice reintegrating into the community with real-life situations he may encounter on a daily basis once he returned home.

After a few weeks at the hospital, Wade successfully discharged home, ambulating with the use of a walker. The work was not over though—Wade returned for outpatient therapy services for the next three months. He continued working on his walking. Wade also learned methods and devices to make life easier and to adjust to life’s new circumstances. Wade always gave everything he had during his therapy sessions. He said, “If you give 100% to everything, it’ll take care of itself with time.”

Time and determination is what Wade needed. He graduated from outpatient a few months later and no longer needed to use a walker to ambulate. Wade also regained the use of his hand, so he felt it was time to find a job to contribute to society and to his family. He applied for a patient care technician position at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital because he wanted to “become a part of the team that gave him so much.”

Today, Wade has held several positions at the facility, including patient care technician, therapy technician, and currently, maintenance mechanic. He enjoys the opportunity to bring patients joy. Wade uses his situation as an opportunity to relate to patients and give them hope that life can return to normal, even if it is a new normal.

Wade said, “My life has been a blessing and I owe it all to this facility.” His drive and determination are what made him successful not only has a patient, but now as an employee. Wade is a huge asset to the facility. He has been awarded “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Month” numerous times and was even awarded “Passionate Patient Caregiver of the Year” in 2017.

“I’m alive and I’m grateful. Every extra day I get on Earth is a blessing, and I’m most appreciative of the opportunity to work here,” Wade said.

We are blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of Wade’s recovery journey as well as the opportunity to work with him now on a daily basis!

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Mark Cook

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A car accident nearly took Mark Cook’s life, and left him with a traumatic brain injury.

At the age of 47, Mark Cook almost lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. When Mark arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center’s (BAMC) Level 1 Trauma Center he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

Mark spent ten days in a coma. Fortunately, he wouldn’t require a craniotomy to relieve the pressure in his brain. The doctors did not think he would be able to survive the surgery. But, the pressure in his brain was increasing. It seemed that was the only option. Mark’s wife of 15 years recalls yelling at him, saying, “you are not allowed to leave me!” She could not imagine life without him. They still had so many hopes, plans and dreams to accomplish together. She begged him to stay strong and fight.

Three hours later, the pressure in Mark’s brain miraculously decreased. The doctors said he would no longer need the surgery. Mark remained at BAMC for two months while he gained medical stability.

Mark and his wife knew the road to recovery was going to be a long road. Wheelchair bound, Mark had to relearn how to walk, talk, and stand. He also needed to relearn how to perform activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, eating, dressing, and toileting. While at BAMC, Mark’s social worker connected him with the Texas Health & Human Services’ Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services program. The program assists eligible people who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) to function independently in their home and community by providing funding.

Through this program, Mark admitted to a rehabilitation hospital in Austin for four months. Post-acute brain injury rehabilitation for three months followed, to aid in his transition home. Mark continued to work hard to regain his strength. To function independently in the community, Mark knew more therapy was necessary.

That led Mark to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. Mark began outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy at NBRRH. On his first day, Mark unsteadily walked in using a cane. Due to his injury, Mark had trouble using his right hand. Occupational therapy worked on that aspect, as well as his activities of daily living. Additionally, Mark’s speech and cognition were impaired. Speech therapy helped him with thought processing, reasoning, and memory.

A large part of Mark’s success was due to his wife’s untiring support and encouragement. She watched him progress little by little with each therapy session. She continued to be Mark’s biggest cheerleader throughout this journey. Mark’s positive outlook on life despite his injury inspired the therapists and staff at New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Mark was always cheerful, motivated, and eager to participate in therapy,” said Sarah, Mark’s physical therapist. “He always brought a smile to our faces every time we treated him.”

Six months later, Mark continues to have a positive attitude as he graduates from our outpatient program. A year and a half after the accident, Mark now walks independently without an assistive device. His cognition, memory, and speech have improved tremendously. Rehabilitation isn’t over yet though—Mark plans to continue a home exercise program to maintain his level of independence.

Prior to his brain injury, Mark enjoyed playing the guitar and ukulele. He plans to continue playing music in the future now that he has better usage of his right arm. Mark and his wife also plan to travel throughout the United States to see and experience new adventures together.

Mark has made so much progress throughout his time with us and we look forward to seeing where his adventures will take him next!

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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