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.