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Mike's Story: Road to Recovery

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When he was 1,000 miles from home, Mike Duffy wasn’t sure how or when he would get back. 

His journey has been long in more ways than one, but inpatient rehabilitation put the destination within reach. 

A harrowing motorcycle accident put Duffy, 62, in the intensive care unit in a Georgia hospital. Once he was medically cleared to do so – nearly a month later – Duffy made special arrangements to fly back to Waterloo and be admitted to UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital.

“We were walking through the Allen parking lot about three weeks before the accident and I told them, if anything happens to me, then bring me back here,” Duffy said. After losing control of his motorcycle on a Georgia highway, Duffy’s injuries were numerous and serious. There were fractures in his vertebrae, arm and leg. There was trauma to his abdomen, chest and head.

“In a lot of the pictures I’ve seen, I could’ve bowed out and went the other way,” said Duffy. “My oldest boy said ‘it wasn’t your time, dad – you have too much hell to raise.’ I told him to not to tell everybody that.” 

SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT 

Everyone admitted to rehab has a starting point. Duffy was unable to walk, had trouble sitting up, needed a nasogastric tube for necessary nutrients and experienced severe defects with his memory and cognitive ability. 

“He couldn’t do anything as far as daily activities or mobility. Everything was shot when he came to us,” said Farid Manshadi, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Allen Hospital. 

Everyone who is discharged from rehab has made the necessary progress to sufficiently function back at home. While Duffy may not return completely to the life he had before, he will be the first to count his blessings for Dr. Manshadi and the rest of the rehab staff that helped him return home two months after his accident.

 “When he came in, he couldn’t even walk three feet and was exhausted, even sitting up in his chair was a challenge for him,” said Duffy’s wife, Judy. “From what he’s been through to where he is today is amazing. The team at Allen has been wonderful.”

LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL

Spending a month in the hospital in order to get well was necessary, but it meant missing a benefit event in Duffy’s honor that was put on in his hometown of Fairbank. 

Instead, he joined the party via Skype from his hospital room, and it signaled a step forward in his recovery.

 “It was a perfect example of how far he’d come,” Judy Duffy said. “When he first got here, he would ask if I was coming in to see him, and I had to tell him I had been here every day to see him. When he went to Skype, he has a passcode and needs to hit all sorts of buttons to get in there. I showed him one night, and he could do it perfect two days later.” 

Duffy’s progress was the result of gait and balance training to get him back on his feet, speech therapy and activities to restore his memory and organizational skills. 

Another important part of inpatient rehab is recreational and music therapy, which involve activities that make life in the hospital more enjoyable and ultimately help patients integrate the skills learned in treatment settings for use in community environments.

All of it helped Duffy cover the final couple miles to get back home. 

“He walked out of our rehab unit,” said Dr. Manshadi. “His swallowing ability returned, his cognitive skills improved, we worked on his walking and got him up with a walker. It was pretty much a 180-degree turnaround.” 

“They understood how I was and how I used to do things,” Duffy explained. “Every day I would do something progressive and more challenging. The care of the staff – you feel that they really care.”