On a typical summer day, Margaret "Peggy" Moran lost her footing and tumbled down a flight of stairs in her home.
Luckily, she lived with her son Steven, who called 911. “I fell down the stairs at my home, and the next thing I remember is them picking me up to go on the stretcher to go to the hospital,” she recalled.
The mother of four – and grandmother of two - was transported by ambulance to Hackensack University Medical Center. A series of tests, including an MRI, confirmed she sustained multiple fractures to her wrist, ribs and spine and an intracranial hemorrhage – bleeding inside the brain. She underwent spinal and wrist surgeries to treat her broken bones.
After her condition was stabilized at Hackensack, her injuries left her with cognitive deficits and “non-weight bearing,” unable to move or walk independently. When asked where she wanted to go for her rehabilitation, she had an easy answer: Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Saddle Brook.
“I wanted to go there…I knew Kessler had more than kept their reputation,” she recalled.
Upon admission, the self-proclaimed planner wanted to return to the activities she enjoyed: “Going to the senior center, church, out to lunch with friends and to visit my son at his home in Delaware near the beach.” Focusing on her comprehensive needs, Peggy’s physician-led team of rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists and other specialists tailored a treatment plan to meet her goals.
Through a range of physical and occupational therapy services, totaling three hours daily, she steadily improved. Gait-training exercises including the body-weight supported treadmill, helped her build the strength and balance to walk. She admitted she “didn’t care for the treadmill,” but with the encouragement of her therapists, she progressed.
A significant milestone for Peggy was when she “started walking better.” “In the beginning, I was staggering all over and couldn’t get my feet to do what my brain was telling it to do, but now I feel like I’m doing much better,” she recollected.
She enjoyed participating in the cognitive exercises provided by her occupational therapists to overcome memory and concentration challenges. “I liked the exercise the other day which made me think a lot and you had to make connections between five stories,” she said. “It’s always nice to have cheerful people around you.”
A turning point arrived for Peggy when she “realized that I could do the things I was hoping to do…That’s when I decided to go from despair, and I decided that I was going to get better with the help I got from everybody that I met here.”
Her son remained by her side throughout her recovery journey. “My son has come to all my doctor’s appointments and he visits me to keep me company,” she said. He also participated in a Kessler family education and training session to understand the adaptive strategies to be able to assist his mother with daily activities at home.
Peggy and her family agree the care she received at Kessler was “excellent…My kids can’t believe I can do what I can do. I went to bingo and jeopardy. It was great.”
After three weeks at Kessler, she was able to move and walk with minimal assistance. “I can walk again, which I didn’t expect to do…All the things that you take for granted, I’m almost able to do again.” Her positivity attributed to her progress. “I try to keep a good attitude, I find that’s very important. A lot of people say my attitude helps them.”
As she continued to heal and gain strength, Peggy planned to continue her recovery as an outpatient, hoping to soon be able to walk without assistance. She advises others going through similar challenges: “If you have a fall and you’re hurt, come to Kessler.”
She discovered that she possessed greater resilience than she had previously believed. “Miracles happen at Kessler.”