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Gaining Strength

Gaining Strength
September 13, 2018 Janet Long

Gaining Strength: Donahue taking life one step at a time

Sharon Donahue has many reasons to feel blessed that she lives in Morris, and one is that the proficient physical therapists at the Diagnostic & Rehabilitative Center of Morris Hospital are nearby.

“They are the best,” Sharon says. “I’ve made a lot of progress since coming to Morris Hospital’s rehab center.”

Last February, Sharon began working with Morris Hospital physical therapist Elaine Gengenbacher to overcome extreme weakness due to muscular atrophy in her legs resulting from surgery.

“I couldn’t find my legs or my feet, and I couldn’t walk,” she says. “I couldn’t even sit up. I didn’t have any balance.”

In order to walk again, Sharon’s muscles needed to be retrained and strengthened. Physical therapy sessions held three times a week at Morris Hospital’s Diagnostic & Rehabilitative Center included work on the parallel bars and stationary bicycle, mat exercises, squats, lateral walking and sit-to-stand exercises. In addition to Gengenbacher, Sharon had the opportunity to work with Morris Hospital physical therapists Ryan Bechtel and Shannon Gambon and physical therapy assistant Belinda Hill.

“We worked on my core, we worked on my back, we worked on every muscle I had and some I didn’t know I had,” Sharon says with a laugh.

When Sharon’s muscles were ready, she was able to focus on walking. A celebrated milestone occurred when she was able to leave the wheelchair behind for a walker. That was a turning point for Sharon and her husband, Julian Houston.

“Julian used to have to wheel me in in a wheelchair,” Sharon says. “Now I walk in with a walker.”

Today, Sharon has made the transition to one physical therapy session a week, which she supplements with exercise done at home and the Morris YMCA, along with water therapy in a friend’s pool.

She says she looks forward to the day she can walk unassisted and stand long enough to cut fabric and help her husband in the kitchen. She even looks forward to doing laundry again. Bowling, serving in her church and returning to volunteering with the Morris Hospital Patient Transportation program with her husband are also much anticipated goals.

“I’m just a work in progress,” she says, “but I have faith I’ll get there.”