It’s not just a bike, it’s a miracle

Keith Halverson recovers from a stroke with the help of WMC therapists and the RT300 bike at Winneshiek Medical Center. Pictured from left, McKay Youngblut, University of Wisconsin student, Keith Halverson and Jennessa Luzum, WMC Occupational Therapist.

RT300 rehabilitation bike benefits WMC patients

Going about their usual day on the farm changed without notice for Keith and Joanne Halverson of Mabel, Minnesota. Keith suffered a stroke in January that affected the left side of his body, making it a challenge for him to do everyday things like walking, buttoning a shirt or eating on his own.

“I fell in the bedroom,” says Keith. “Luckily my wife heard me.” The Mabel ambulance promptly transferred Keith to Saint Marys in Rochester. Later, Keith and his family chose to come to Decorah for transitional care through the Mayo Post Acute Care (MPAC) program. “They gave us a choice in Rochester of where to go for further care,” says Joanne. “Of course we chose WMC, we’re just 32 miles away and I knew the therapy program is very good here.”

Transitional care is for patients who are recovering from an illness and/or surgery and need more help rehabilitating and healing before successfully returning home.

WMC transitional care teams may include doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, rehabilitation professionals such as physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, and, if requested, spiritual leaders. “There are distinct advantages for patients who choose WMC for transitional care,” says Sue Heitman, RN, DNP, chief nursing officer at WMC. “Because our therapists are available 7 days a week, we can provide the opportunity for a more intense rehabilitation program to accelerate the patient’s recovery. We are also able to administer certain intravenous medications that another facility may not be able to give, and physicians are on-site should any complications arise during their stay.”

Because they chose WMC for transitional care, Keith received speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy four times each day. He also had access to the RT300 rehabilitation bike which uses state-of-the-art technology to provide advanced therapy for individuals with spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. “He started on this bike and it was a miracle,” says Joanne. “If you saw him after his stroke happened, and compared to now…it is just a miracle.”

Keith’s rehabilitation on the RT300 FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) bike involved attaching pads to his arm and shoulder, which would deliver electric pulses to his muscles. “The pulses sent from the bike caused Keith’s muscles to contract. Through this process he was able to retrain his brain to actually move his arm and hand,” says Jennessa Luzum, MS, OTR/L, CLT, CHT, Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist at Winneshiek Medical Center. “The first day we tried the bike, he was able to use it for just 10 minutes and we had to support his hand to keep it on the machine. Now he grabs the machine on his own and goes 25 minutes at each session, which is about the same distance as 4 miles.”

WMC received the RT300 FES bike from the SCI-CAN Foundation in March, 2013. Since then, there have been more than 400 sessions on the bike with patients from age 6 to 95 who are living with the effects of strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease and more. Luzum says, “It’s an incredible asset for our hospital to have a high-level piece of equipment like this available locally. We are grateful to the SCI-CAN Foundation and Chris Norton for his perseverance and leadership in providing this bike to people in our community and region.”

“I can do everyday things now, like raising my hand, eating with silverware, holding things and getting around with my walker,” says Keith. “This bike is helping people out and changing lives. If my story can help other people, I’ll tell it – and I won’t ever say I can’t do something, because this bike has proven that I can.”

To learn more, visit winmedical.org or call 563-387-3031 to speak with an occupational therapist in the Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Department at Winneshiek Medical Center.

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