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Rehabilitation Archive

June 4th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Untangling a complex medical challenge

By Hoyt Finnamore

Amy Supergan with family members in Sienna, Italy.Amy Supergan has battled a host of difficult and painful disorders. Now she's found a way back to enjoying her life and her family.

In the summer of 2013, Amy Supergan took a trip to Italy. That may not sound extraordinary, but there was a time when being able to travel and enjoy a vacation with her family seemed like an impossible goal.

Amy faces a range of challenging medical problems, but at the top of that list is pain so debilitating she was forced to quit her career and give up an active lifestyle. But through the care she has received at Mayo Clinic and her participation in an innovative clinical research trial, Amy has found a renewed ability to manage her pain, and enjoy friends and family when she is able.

"Although I may never ski again or be back at work, with the help of all of my doctors at Mayo, I am now able to live independently with some assistance," she says. "I have found happiness in being more relaxed and appreciating some of the smaller things in life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life as I did before." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: chronic pain, clinical trials, Dr Daniel Lachance, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Patient Stories, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Dr Kendall Lee

May 16th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

#StrokeMonth: From Victim to Therapist

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz (center) with Lisa Lazaraton (far left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother and aunt (right).

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz with Lisa Lazaraton (left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother (center) and aunt.

It’s been almost three years since Sean Bretz collapsed. Unbeknownst to the then 23-year-old U.S. Coast Guardsman, a giant aneurysm had burst in his brain, causing a massive stroke.

“His prognosis was grim,” neurosurgeon Rabih Tawk, M.D., recalls. “We used every technology available to help him.”

Despite complications and issues, which required him to be induced into a medical coma, Bretz made an almost full recovery.

“I realize I was lucky and recovered pretty well. A lot of other people who have this type of stroke do not,” says Bretz, who attributes his success to the large team at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

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Tags: Aneurysm, bretz, Dr Rabih Tawk, Rehabilitation, Sean Bretz, stroke, Stroke Center, therapy

February 14th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Transitional Care Team Helps Sandy Dyson Get Back on the Dance Floor

By Mayo Clinic

If Proud Mary is playing, Sandy Dyson wants to be dancing. But last spring, it looked like Dyson’s dancing days might be behind her. After knee replacement surgery, the 71-year-old Kennebec, S.D., resident was in so much pain that just walking seemed like punishment.

Sandy and Dick Dyson

Sandy and Dick Dyson are back on the dance floor after rehab helped Sandy regain mobility after knee replacement.

Thanks to a “wickedly good team” of rehabilitation specialists in the Mayo Transitional Care program at Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca, however, she was back on the dance floor by winter.

The Transitional Care program provides a step between hospital and home for patients, who are supervised by physicians and receive daily care from nurses and therapists. A multidisciplinary team of providers sets up an individualized plan of care for each patient designed to get them back home as quickly as possible.

“Without their help I wouldn’t be where I am today,” says Dyson.

When she arrived in Waseca three days after having surgery at Mayo Clinic, Dyson was in “excruciating” pain.

She understood that the pain she was experiencing wasn’t unusual immediately after knee replacement surgery, but Dyson was not happy about it. And not shy about letting people know it. But that didn’t scare staff away. Dyson says someone checked on her every 30 minutes the first week she arrived, always meeting her tears and frustration with kindness and encouragement. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Josh Berndt, Knee Replacement, Patient Stories, Rehabilitation, Sandy Dyson, Transitional Care

October 4th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Mark Gilbertson 2.0 – Putting the Pieces Together Again

By Mayo Clinic

After a terrible accident left him barely alive and in need of major reconstruction, Mark Gilbertson found the right team at Mayo Clinic to help piece things back together again. He shares his story below.


Mark Gilbertson

My name is Mark Gilbertson, and here’s my story.

I am originally from Brainerd, Minn. I joined the Air Force following high school and retired in 2009 after 22 years of active duty as an aircraft mechanic. I now work for the Boeing Company as an aircraft mechanic at an air base in Hungary. My family and I have lived there for nearly four years.

On Dec. 19, 2012, some workers at the airbase were opening a large hangar door using a steel cable attached to the front of a large truck. The cable was stretched across the road. The weather was rainy, and it was a little dark. As I approached in my car, I did not see the cable, and struck it at about 29 MPH.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: dental implants, Dr. Eric Moore, Dr Kevin Arce, jaw surgery, otorhinolaryngology, Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

November 27th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Working Your Way Down and Out

By Margaret Shepard

Chad HansonSince a serious car accident in 1998, Chad Hanson has learned a lot about goals and adaptations. As a patient in Mayo Clinic's Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Unit, he remembers the first time he was able to use the joystick on his wheelchair -- his fingers pushing the lever but not strong enough to pull back, his therapists standing close by, catching him before he hit the wall.

"It was great!" he laughs. "I didn't have much control that first time, but I told them by the end of the weekend I would be able to take my hand on and off the joy stick. And I did."

Chad broke his neck in the accident. "He was initially paralyzed from the neck down and required a ventilator to help him breathe," explains his physician, Jeffrey Strommen, M. D. "Over time his breathing improved to the point that he was able to get off the ventilator and transfer to the rehabilitation unit. His prognosis for recovery of walking was less than 3 percent but we hoped that he would at least gain some arm function to allow him to be more independent." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: assistive technology, Chad Hanson, Dr. Jeffrey Strommen, Mayo Clinic, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitiation

September 29th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Finding Hope in Small Strides

By Makala Johnson

Since a devastating football injury, Chris Norton has taken steady steps toward recovery through determination, faith and a strong support network. Now, he's reaching out to help others with spinal-cord injuries. 

Chris Norton at Minnesota Twins game

On a Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, while making a tackle in a Luther College football game, Chris Norton's life changed dramatically. It was clear right away that his injury was serious. On the field, he told coaches and trainers he couldn’t move, and he couldn't feel anything below his neck. Chris was transported to Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, Iowa, and from there, flown by helicopter to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Physicians found that Chris had two broken vertebrae in his neck and compressed spinal cord. Initially, he had no movement from the neck down. But within 24 hours of the accident, there was a sign of hope. Chris was able to move his shoulder. That was below the injury site, and Chris and his family latched onto that sign.

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Tags: Chris Norton, Courage in Sports, Luther College, Mayo Clinic, Rehabilitation, SCI CAN, spinal cord

August 8th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Injured At Birth

By Makala Johnson

Taylor Beauseau's parents are thrilled to see her up in arms after surgery to repair a damaged brachial plexus.

Taylor Beauseau's parents are thrilled to see her up in arms after surgery to repair a damaged brachial plexus.

Ironically, little Taylor Rose Beauseau experienced what will likely be the most severe injury of her life during her birth. While emerging through her mother's birth canal, her right shoulder became trapped, injuring the nerves that control her right arm.

In most cases of brachial plexus injury during birth, the nerves are stretched and infants develop use of their injured arm in a month or two. In Taylor's case, the nerves were severed and, even after several months, she couldn't move her right arm. "When she was six months old, she had surgery to repair the damage, but she still wasn't able to move her right arm," says Taylor's father, Jason Boso. The family was concerned that Taylor would never be able to use her right arm.

"As parents, we always want to make the best choices for our children," says Jason. "So on my birthday, I gave myself a special gift and called Mayo Clinic in Rochester to see if they would be willing to evaluate Taylor. We definitely needed a second opinion."

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Tags: Alexander Shin, birth, brachial plexus, nerve graft, oberlin technique, Taylor Beauseau

May 18th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

New Device Helps Man Who ‘Forgets’ to Breathe

By Stacy Theobald

David Vannausdle, his parents and Dr. ReevesHis whole life, David Vannausdle, 32, of Granger, Iowa, has been tethered to some type of breathing device for at least some part of the day or night. 

Without external assistance, his body “forgets” to breathe. He was born with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, also referred to as Ondine’s curse. Essentially, the brain fails to signal the lungs to breathe. 

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Tags: David Vannausdle, M.D., Ronald Reeves, “forgets” to breathe

May 9th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Rehab Program Helps Texas Teen Learn to Manage Chronic Pain

By Stacy Theobald

Austin HortonAustin Horton’s adolescence was dominated by pain. More than a dozen specialists — among them an orthopedist, rheumatologist, pain doctor, psychiatrist and acupuncturist — couldn’t offer much relief or even a definitive reason for the pain.

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Tags: Austin Horton, Barabara Bruce Ph.D., chronic pain

March 2nd, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Patient’s Valentine’s Day Engagement provides an Inspiring Example for Others

By Makala Johnson

Amanda Mattheisen has endured chronic back pain since a car accident thirteen years ago. At times, the pain was so bad it controlled her life. Surgeries and drug treatments brought no relief.

Amanda Mattheisen and fiance ChuckEventually, Mattheisen turned to Mayo Clinic’s two-day Pain Rehabilitation Program, a program designed to help people whose pain cannot be cured to learn how to improve their lives despite the pain. Mattheisen arrived to the program on Feb. 13 with her boyfriend Charles Buggs along for support, and during a stretching exercise on the second day of the program, Mattheisen’s boyfriend became her fiancé.

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Tags: Amanda Mattheisen, back pain, Charles Buggs, chronic, Joan Cronin, Pain Rehabilitation Program, Valentine's Day