Laura's story

Photo of Laura Klein at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation

Laura Klein, a vibrant 74-year-old, lives with husband and 14-year-old granddaughter in Rockland County, New York. She loves music, cooking and going for walks. After a serious fall at an outdoor event, she found herself facing one of the biggest challenges of her life. She had broken her shoulder in multiple places and broke her femur. She was transferred from Good Samaritan Hospital to Westchester Medical Center for surgeries, including a reverse total shoulder replacement and femur repair.

When she was medically stable, Laura needed to go to a rehabilitation center to continue recovering from her surgeries and learn the skills she would need to be independent.

“It was hard to move my right arm and leg, roll in bed and learn to do things with my left hand that I would normally do with my right hand,” she said. She found it difficult or impossible to do everyday tasks, from moving from her bed to wheelchair to feeding herself, putting on her glasses and washing her face and brushing her teeth. A patient advocate suggested the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR) - Saddle Brook, renowned for its patient care, to restore her strength and skills.

Upon admission, Laura made her goals clear: to regain mobility, learn to move in a wheelchair and strengthen her muscles. The KIR – Saddle Brook physician-led team of nurses, physical and occupational therapists worked with Laura to develop a treatment plan that would restore her quality of life.

Her occupational therapy activities worked with her on moving to and from her wheelchair. Laura didn’t always like the repetitive nature of the exercises but understood their importance for muscle strengthening. She was also taught how to use assistive devices that would help her do everyday tasks on her own while she healed and continued to build strength. Physical therapy activities aimed to strengthen her body and increase her endurance and activity tolerance.

A key turning point in Laura’s recovery was transferring from bed to her wheelchair with minimal assistance. This milestone marked a significant improvement in her mindset. "Practicing transfers and moving in the wheelchair… has become instinctual now," she said. Laura credited her progress to the rehab team's positive attitudes, enthusiasm and sensitivity to her limitations.

Family support also played a crucial role in Laura's recovery. Her husband, who advocated for her transfer to a specialized trauma center after her fall, continued to support her throughout her rehabilitation at KIR – Saddle Brook. He participated in family training sessions, and Laura's sister planned to fly in from Chicago to assist at home. She really appreciated the calls and visits.

Reflecting on her experience, Laura described it as "very satisfying." The caring attitudes of the staff at KIR – Saddle Brook, contributed significantly to her positive experience.

When asked about what she anticipated after discharge, Laura joked, “Seeing my house again and making sure it’s in one piece!” She looked forward to returning home to her husband and granddaughter.

For those who find themselves in a similar situation, Laura said that patience and trust in the rehabilitation process is important. "Be thankful for the little victories," she recommended.

Since discharge, Laura said “I am continuing to make good progress in my recovery. I no longer use a wheelchair and generally walk with a cane. I had some home-based physical therapy and am now in outpatient PT. I'm still not totally back to my former capabilities, but I am so thankful for all the things I can do now which were impossible just a few months ago.”