All posts by Mary Walsh

Ashley Zuehl

Ashley Zuehl achieved her goal of walking again before her 34th birthday.

Ashley Zuehl of Marion, Texas, is 34 years old. She spends a lot of her free time crafting, bowling, and caring for her six dogs. She works from home and has a passion for writing to her pen pals across the country.

In May, Ashley contracted COVID-19 and ended up in the hospital with worsening respiratory symptoms. She was intubated for 15 days and hospitalized for six weeks due to COVID-19, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. Upon discharge, she remained bed-bound due to a lack of equipment and the ability to regain her strength and endurance.

Patients who develop post-COVID-19 symptoms can suffer from extreme fatigue, lack of endurance, memory issues, and shortness of breath. In Ashley’s case, the right side of her body was severely affected. This prevented her from doing what she loved most—writing. She also suffered from extreme bilateral weakness and couldn’t bear weight on her lower extremities.

Ashley’s home health company recommended New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for intense therapy. Upon arrival at NBRRH, she said, “I want to be able to walk independently and get back to my normal life.” After not being able to walk for six months, her goal was to walk before her 34th birthday.

Aquatic therapy was extremely beneficial for Ashley’s post-COVID-19 symptoms. The water offered natural resistance, allowing her to strengthen her breathing muscles, as well as her limb and trunk muscles. The buoyancy of the water made movements easier while improving Ashley’s mobility and balance.

After intense therapy and over a month of hard work, Ashley met her goal of being able to walk before her birthday. She also improved her endurance, activity tolerance, and range of motion. These accomplishments helped her regain independence with her activities of daily living (ADLs). While celebrating her 34th birthday, Ashley also got to celebrate her newfound independence.

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Kelly Shade

Kelly Shade loved looking after his ranch and spending time outdoors until he suffered a severe spinal cord injury.

Kelly Shade of Seguin, TX is an active 63-year-old who spends much of his free time enjoying the great outdoors. He has been married to his loving wife, Kathleen, for 37 years. They both enjoy spending time with their two children and three grandchildren. Kelly stays busy taking care of his ranch. He also enjoys landscaping, looking after his animals and plants, and riding his horses. His faith and ministry are very important to him as well.

One September day, Kelly’s life changed forever. He was thrown off his horse and landed on his head, breaking his neck in the process. Kelly immediately went to the hospital. There, they informed him that he suffered a spinal cord injury, which resulted in paralysis in his upper and lower limbs.

Kelly’s neurosurgeon compared his C2-C5 spinal cord injury to that of late actor Christopher Reeve. Seeing that he had some sensation left in his limbs, they quickly got him into surgery. Following surgery, Kelly needed rehabilitation to help him regain his strength and independence.

After researching various facilities, Kelly decided to transfer to New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. Recovering close to home was extremely important to him and his wife. They wanted their support system of friends and family nearby throughout Kelly’s healing journey.

“When I first got to NBRRH, I couldn’t walk or feed myself. The staff was so encouraging throughout my stay and taught me how to do these things again. The therapist would take me as far as I could go and gave me the reassurance and support I needed to succeed,” Kelly stated.

Because of his hard work, determination, and steadfast faith, Kelly made incredible progress throughout his 40-day stay at NBRRH. He regained the ability to walk and even developed movement in his left hand. His progress was phenomenal! Staff members joined in his excitement as he regained his abilities and became more independent. One of his therapists described him as “one of the most motivating and positive patients.”

Today, Kelly is back at the ranch with his wife and animals, but rehabilitation isn’t over yet. He is receiving home health therapy and continues working hard to make progress every day. His inspiring story is why we do what we do at NBRRH. We look forward to seeing where his adventures take him next.

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M’Liss Brockman

M’Liss came to NBRRH to work on her strength and endurance after experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19.

M’Liss Brockman enjoyed a healthy and energetic lifestyle prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19 in February 2021.  The 64-year-old New Braunfels’ resident has always been very active with her spouse, of 45 years, her three children and her five grandchildren.

M’Liss woke up one morning and felt abnormally tired and lethargic. Like many people, she thought it was allergies, but she and her husband decided to get tested for COVID-19 as a precaution. After receiving a positive result, M’Liss was optimistic about her recovery, but didn’t want to be too confident until she was out of the woods.  Luckily, M’Liss had already received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which her family physician said, more than likely saved her life.

On day ten of her initial onset of symptoms, M’Liss had a sudden change in status and found herself unable to get out of bed. Her family physician advised her to go to the hospital where she was admitted for twelve days for respiratory failure and pneumonia due to COVID-19.

Once stabilized, M’Liss needed inpatient rehabilitation before she could safely return home. She and her husband instantly knew New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital (NBRRH) would be the best facility to receive the care she needed to get back to her active lifestyle.

When M’Liss first started her recovery, her endurance and strength were limited, and she had trouble with her heart rate elevating with exertion. However, towards the end of her eleven day stay, she was capable of walking longer distance safely and independently.

Upon completion of her inpatient stay at NBRRH, M’Liss continued her recovery in the outpatient Post-Covid-19 program at NBRRH. The program is designed to help Covid-19 “long-haulers” who may continue to experience symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and brain fog.  Surprisingly, these patients tend to be younger and experience only a mild case of Covid-19, yet still suffer the continuing effects from the virus.

M’Liss looks forward to getting back to work and going for bicycle rides with her family. “I was able to walk with confidence after a short time thanks to the guidance and expertise of the therapists.  I highly recommend New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital for anyone focused on getting their life back.”

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