All posts by Angelo Antoline

Motivated by her kids, single mom recovers

Motivated by her six kids, single mom in Greeley recovers from brain aneurysm, goes to college and goes back to work

Jennifer Flores had headaches before, but this was different. She’d never experienced that kind of pain. When it hit, she began to scream.

Anthony, 10, the eldest of Flores’ six kids, heard the screams. Flores would often playfully scare him and his siblings and chase them around for fun. But Anthony could tell she wasn’t playing. He called 911.

The last thing Flores, 28, of Greeley, remembered was fighting with EMS about who was going to watch her kids as they brought her into the ambulance.

She woke up at Swedish Medical Center in Denver. She’d had five brain aneurysms.

“They told me, If you can’t lift this medicine ball, you won’t be able to take care of your kids.”
— Jennifer Flores, mother of six and survivor of five brain aneurysms

When she woke up, she had no idea she was married or that she had six kids. She’d recognize their faces when they came to visit, but as soon as they left, she couldn’t remember them. Her youngest daughter was a year-and-a-half old then.

A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. It can leak or rupture, which causes a hemorrhagic stroke. Leaks can cause sudden, severe headaches, often followed by a rupture. Ruptures can cause sudden, extremely severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, blurred or double vision, sensitivity to light, seizures, drooping eye lids, loss of consciousness and confusion.

Hers ruptured.

After about two weeks at Swedish Medical Center, Flores transferred to the Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, 4401 Union St. in Johnstown, where she started her recovery. And even though she couldn’t remember them at first, her kids became her reason to get better.

When she first started, she couldn’t lift more than five pounds. When she got frustrated at the gym, her therapists would remind her why she was working so hard.

“I thought I couldn’t do it,” Flores said. “They told me, ‘If you can’t lift this medicine ball, you won’t be able to take care of your kids.’ “

Therapists had her plan birthday parties. They asked her what meals she’d cook her kids. Flores had to list out the ingredients. They even took her to the store and let her pick out the groceries and cook her famous lasagna.

She missed a couple ingredients that time, but it was a big step.

She got discharged from the rehabilitation hospital after 11 days. Her life continued to change. She had to participate in outpatient physical therapy for about a year. She and her husband got a divorce. She had to return to the workforce after her stroke and after years of being a stay-at-home mom.

Now 30, Flores and her ex-husband remain friends. The kids split their time between the two. She just graduated with an associate’s degree from Aims Community College. She’s mostly back to normal now, though sometimes she has difficulty sleeping or sleeps too much. She hopes to be a nurse someday.

“I want my kids to look back and see their mom did this,” Flores said. “I wasn’t supposed to walk again, but I graduated and I worked full time to take care of them.”

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Hospitals and Disasters

Are hospitals prepared for disasters?

The short answer is…yes.

All hospitals are required by laws, regulations, or accreditation requirements to plan for disasters.

Hospitals prepare for both internal and external disasters. Internal disasters are events that occur inside the hospital building like a fire, flood, or power outage and have potential to affect services.

An external disaster is one like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that occurs outside the hospital. This includes severe weather conditions, chemical incidents, or large-scale community accidents. In these situations, the disaster can affect the operations of the hospital or cause an influx of patients to a hospital, depending on the situation and type of hospital.

Every disaster is different. Hospitals prepare for a variety of situations through ongoing planning and practice. This helps everyone understand what to do and how to do it to ensure patients’ safety and well-being.

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Jennifer’s Success Story

Woman’s determination triumphs over life’s setbacks

Jennifer Flores credits family, Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for stroke recovery.

By Jeannie Lancaster – For the Reporter-Herald
– –

When the pain first hit Jennifer Flores, she thought it might be another of the migraines she had suffered from since she was 14. But she quickly realized this was something very different.

“The pain was horrible,” she said. Flores began having difficulty with her speech and losing control of the left side of her body. It was June 2014, and she was in her Greeley home, alone with her six young children.

“I started screaming in pain,” she said. “It freaked my kids out.”

She told her 10-year-old son to call his dad, but his reply was “No, I’m calling 911.” When she insisted, he did call his father, but immediately afterward dialed 911.

“I was awake the whole time,” Flores said. “The paramedics got to the house, and they did a neurological assessment. I couldn’t move my left arm.”

What Flores didn’t know was that she was experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a ruptured aneurysm in her brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “a hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures (breaks open). The leaked blood puts too much pressure on brain cells, which damages them.”

A more common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, which is usually the result of a blocked artery, often caused by a blood clot. Ischemic strokes account for “87 percent of all strokes,” noted the Mayo Clinic.

Flores was taken to North Colorado Medical Center, where doctors assessed her condition. A CT was ordered, but before the scan could be taken, she suffered a massive seizure. A scan later revealed that she had suffered a ruptured aneurysm in her brain. Soon afterward, she was transported by medical helicopter to Swedish Medical Center in Denver.

Physicians at Swedish Medical Center placed Flores in a drug-induced coma and later repaired the ruptured aneurysm. She remained in the coma in the critical care unit for two weeks, before being awakened and transferred for another week to the neuro unit.

When it came time for Flores to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital, the decision was an easy one for her family. They had been pleased with the care Flores’ mother had received at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, following a stroke, three years earlier.

Although both women’s strokes were hemorrhagic, they were also different. Flores’ stroke was caused by the burst aneurysm, while her mother’s stroke was caused by an injury after a fall.

When she first arrived at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, Flores was very weak. She couldn’t walk and struggled with swallowing and speaking. “I couldn’t make sense of things,” she said. “It’s like I woke up on a different planet.”

Short-term memory loss was a significant challenge for her after her stroke. When staff members asked her if she was married, she replied, “No,” although she was. When asked if she had children, she again responded, “No.”

“If they asked the questions, I would say no,” said Flores, “but then they’d show me a picture of my family and ask ‘Who is this?’ and I’d answer, “That’s my kids.”

“This is common with this kind of stroke,” shared Beth Bullard, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

During her 13 days at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, Flores received speech, occupational and physical therapy to aid her in her recovery. “The techniques we use here facilitate brain activity, creating new pathways in the brain,” added Bullard.

“We make it pertinent to a patient’s life and what he/she knows and what they know is familiar, so that helps the brain react well,” said Bullard. “The more repetition we can bring in, the faster we can get those connections to talk to each other again.”

“And that’s exactly what they did,” said Flores. “You have to relearn how to use your body again and how to have your body and your brain work together.”

Bullard noted that Flores’ therapy focused on many of ‘the things that we do every day that we take for granted — to get dressed, to brush your teeth, make a bed, go to the bathroom. These are the things that we do without thinking, but when you have an injury or disability they can become an incredible challenge.”

Though at times she felt like giving up, Flores continued to work hard. “I was determined to get better for my kids. They remained my focus.”

Following her release from Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, Flores received in-home therapy for a short time. In August 2015, physicians placed a stent in her brain to deal with three other aneurysms, which were discovered while repairing the ruptured aneurysm.

“I’m doing better now than I was before,” said Flores. “I don’t have the headaches and exhaustion that I had before the aneurysm.”

Flores and her husband divorced a year after her stroke. She returned to school and finished her associate degree in May of this year. She hopes to continue her education. Working and caring for her six children is her primary focus right now.

When she reflects on her experience and its possible impact on her children, she shared, “I want them to look and see that mom did it. I was paralyzed. I was divorced. But I fought my way back. I did it!”

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Recognizing a Concussion

With fall around the corner, participation in football and other cooler-weather sports and activities will grow – along with the potential for concussions.

A concussion is a brain injury that’s caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body. Concussion symptoms can occur immediately or days/weeks later. Signs of a concussion can include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Concentration or memory issues
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Feeling sluggish/”foggy”
  • Light sensitivity

Early treatment of the symptoms of a concussion may help speed recovery and prevent further injury down the road. If an incident occurs and you suspect a concussion, ask the person immediately and then again a few minutes later:

  • What day is it?
  • What month is it?
  • Repeat these words: Girl, dog, green (ask to repeat again a few minutes later)
  • Repeat the days of the week backward

If the individual appears confused and is unable to answer these questions, it could be a concussion.
End all activity and consult a physician immediately.

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Improving Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms through Rehabilitation

If you live with multiple sclerosis, rehabilitation can play an essential role in helping you function at your best.

From diagnosis on, rehabilitation specialists such as physical, occupational, and speech therapists can help with symptoms of the condition. These usually include muscle control and weakness – affecting the way you walk, move or talk.
Therapies that can help improve these issues include:

  • Physical Therapy – Physical therapists can evaluate and address how your body moves and functions. Therapists can help you with walking, mobility, strength, balance, posture, pain, fatigue, and bladder issues, helping to prevent unnecessary complications.
  • Occupational Therapy – Occupational therapists can help you with everyday activities to increase your independence, productivity, and safety. They can help you modify tasks, use adaptive equipment, and recommend strategies in the home and work place.
  • Speech Therapy – Speech-language pathologists can evaluate and treat any issues you may be having with speaking or swallowing. Some may also help with cognitive issues, which can affect your ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember.
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Local Hospital Helps Mother Return to Her Children

Two years ago, 28-year-old Jennifer Flores had one of the most frightening experiences of her life. While home with her five children in June 2015, she experienced sudden, extreme pain in her head. While her son called for an ambulance, she began losing control of her speech and the left side of her body. This story made the news. Watch it here.

Flores was taken to a local hospital where she was quickly flown by life flight to another as she suffered a massive seizure. Her heart stopped. She woke two weeks later to find that she had suffered from a ruptured aneurysm. She eventually was found to have 4 others that had not ruptured yet and underwent various surgeries.

When it came time for Flores’ rehabilitation, her father insisted that she be taken to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. Her mother had been treated there previously for a stroke and her aunt for an amputation.

“We had all been to the rehabilitation hospital before and knew how amazing it was,” she says. Although at the time, Flores says she was disoriented. When she arrived at the hospital she was unaware that she had children. She was weak and couldn’t walk, and she struggled with swallowing and speaking.

“The staff was so compassionate and caring,” Flores says. “They felt like family members. I had a whole team fighting for me to get better. You should have seen how they fought for me.”

Flores recalls the turning point in her rehabilitation process. One day she was trying to lift a 5-pound medicine ball and couldn’t do it. She gave up and told the therapist she couldn’t do it, and that she just wanted to go home to her children. To which the therapist replied that if she couldn’t lift the ball, she was going to be unable to lift her baby and may not be able to take care of her children.

That hit home.

“The ‘tough love’ worked,” Flores says. When it came time for dinner later that day, she grabbed her wheelchair and started to walk to the dining room. “I was determined to get better for my kids; they remained my focus. My rehabilitation was tailored to me and my experience. I wasn’t just practicing writing words; I planned birthday parties for each of my children. This tested my memory, organization skills, and writing. This is what I would have been doing at home. It was perfect for me.”

Flores says she had another powerful experience at the hospital as well. A persistent cough disrupted her sleep for days. One of the physicians heard her one night and went into her room. He asked if she had tried hot tea to soothe the cough. Flores said she had not because she was on a diet that required all her drinks to be thickened, and she didn’t think she should. The doctor reassured her she could have the tea.

“He then went to the cafeteria and made me tea with lemon and honey,” Flores says. “Then he sat with me and talked while I drank it. It was as if I were the only patient there. He made me tea the next night as well. It was truly a powerful and compassionate experience.”

After 11 days, Flores walked out of the hospital and headed home to her children.

“I couldn’t have done it without Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital,” she says. “The entire staff was compassionate and dedicated, and everyone knew what they were doing. It really was amazing.”

Flores, who now is a mother to six children, recently graduated with an associate’s degree. She intends to continue with her education and earn a bachelor’s degree in public health and human services. She is completely independent.

“The whole experience has provided me with powerful insight,” she says. “I want to share my story and inspire others. I want to help patients and their family members understand a process like this takes time and patience. Everyone will get frustrated at times, but there is help and support available. Look for it and use it. Focus on what you CAN do and not on what you can’t do.”

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10 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Michael J. Fox was a 29-year-old actor who woke up one morning and noticed his little finger shaking. What he thought was a side effect of a hangover actually was an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that has no known cause. Nearly a million people in the United States live with the disease.

Some symptoms of the disease are easy to see, while others are hard even for a trained healthcare professional to detect.
The National Parkinson Foundation offers these 10 early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Tremor or shaking of a body part
  2. Small handwriting – your handwriting changes to become smaller
  3. Loss of smell
  4. Trouble sleeping
  5. Trouble moving or walking
  6. Constipation
  7. Soft or low voice – your voice changes to be softer
  8. Masked or serious look on your face even when you’re not in a bad mood
  9. Dizziness or fainting
  10. Stooping or hunching over

No one symptom necessarily means that you have the disease; the symptom may be caused by another condition. However, if you feel you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to visit your physician.

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Rehabilitative Care – It’s Not All the Same

When looking for rehabilitative care, you may have heard of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, and nursing homes. While these may seem like equal choices for care, they’re not.

Each of the facilities mentioned above has rehabilitation professionals on staff, but only one – the rehabilitation hospital – specializes in rehabilitation, offering 24-hour rehabilitative nursing care, along with daily physician management and intensive rehabilitation therapies.

So, why is this important?

Simply put, when it comes to your health, you want the best option provided.

A national study commissioned by the ARA Research Institute shows that patients treated in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals have better long-term results than those treated in skilled nursing facilities.
The study shows that patients:

  • Live longer
  • Have less hospital and ER visits
  • Remain longer in their homes without additional outpatient services

In addition, patients in the study:

  • Returned home from their initial stay two weeks earlier
  • Remained home two weeks longer

So the bottom line is, as a patient, you get to choose where you want to go. Don’t ever hesitate to research, observe and ask questions about a facility to be sure you receive the level of rehabilitative care that you want and need.

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Lower Your Stroke Risks this Summer

Summer is a great time for a lot of things – barbecues, outdoor activities, vacations…but what you may not think about when it comes to summer is using all it has to offer to lower your stroke risks.

Strokes – or brain attacks – are the leading cause of adult disabilities in the United States, and can happen to anyone at any time. According to the National Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people experience strokes every year.

One of the biggest myths regarding strokes is that they can’t be avoided. But in reality, nearly 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented by controlling lifestyle risk factors, or habits that we engage in that can be changed to improve our health.

Summer provides easy-to-find opportunities to lower stroke risks, such as:

  • Buy and eat fresh produce. Visit your local farmer’s market or grocery store to find in-season, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat them in their natural states.
  • Eat less salt. Eat fresh vegetables versus canned items, and your salt intake will decrease.
  • Visit the beach. Eat more seafood (at the beach or not) instead of red meat.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Get active outside during the warmer and longer days.
  • Put the cigarettes down. Summer usually is less stressful. Use it to your advantage to try to break the habit.
  • Shoot for your healthy weight. Healthy eating and activities may help you reach a healthy weight (if you’re not already at it).
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After a Stroke — Finding the Right Words

It’s common to struggle at times to find the right word during a conversation. But for an individual who has had a stroke, finding the right word may be much more difficult.

Aphasia can be a side effect of a stroke, which can affect a person’s ability to communicate by impairing the ability to speak, read, listen or write. When a person with aphasia has word-finding difficulty, it’s called anomia.

Anomia makes it difficult to find the words or ideas that a person wants to share. Sometimes the word may come, and sometimes it won’t.

When this happens in a conversation, the person who is speaking to the stroke survivor may want to jump in quickly to supply the word. But in reality, that can be more of a hindrance than a help. It would be more beneficial to help the person find the word they are looking for rather than supplying it.

So, how can you best communicate with someone under these circumstances? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Allow plenty of time for a response. Talk with the individual, not for him or her.
  • Ask “yes” or “no” questions that can be answered simply and without a lot of explanation.
  • Use photographs or pictures to help provide cues.
  • Write your cues – such as a letter or a drawing – on a piece of paper to share.
  • Confirm and repeat back what the person has said. Use paraphrases or key words to be sure that you’re understanding properly.
  • Use gestures as you ask questions.
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Act FAST and Save a Life

FAST is an easy way to identify the most common symptoms of stroke:

F – Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Note if one side of the face is drooping.
A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms to the side. See if one drifts downward.
S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Listen if the speech is slurred or strange.
T – Time to call 911. If you observe any of these signs, call for help immediately.

Take note of the time of the first symptom so you can tell medical personnel because this can affect treatment decisions. Rapid access to medical treatment can make a difference between full recovery and permanent disability.

Other symptoms of a stroke also may include sudden onset of:

  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding what someone is saying
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
  • Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Even if you’re unsure if someone is having a stroke, don’t delay in calling 911 to get the person medical help immediately.

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Don’t Have a Stroke

Dick Clark. Sharon Stone. Rick James.

When you think of these celebrities, you probably think of their talents. What you probably don’t realize is that each suffered a stroke.

Strokes – or brain attacks – can happen to anyone at any time. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death.

According to the National Stroke Association, about 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year. What’s notable, however, is that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be avoided.

Certain traits, conditions and habits can raise an individual’s risk of having a stroke. Many of these lifestyle risk factors can be controlled and may actually help prevent a stroke from occurring.

That’s good news, right? So, how do we lessen our chances of having a stroke?

We can start by controlling these lifestyle risk factors:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Poor diet
• High blood cholesterol
• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Heart diseases
• Alcohol consumption

If you think you can improve any of these lifestyle risk factors, do it.
The changes you make now may affect what happens – or better yet, what doesn’t happen – later.

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Celebrate Stroke Awareness Month with Us!

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital invites you to a FREE Luncheon and 50-foot Stroke Survivor Walk and Roll!

– Tuesday, May 23, 2017 | 12:15 p.m (at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital) –

This event honors and supports stroke survivors while raising awareness of stroke and its incidence in Northern Colorado. A stroke alumni survivor will speak at the event, and we will have therapists on site to assist as needed.

We encourage you to invite your family and friends to participate.

Registration is required. Please RSVP by May 15 to 970-619-3458.

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Wyoming Resident Travels More Than 400 Miles for Johnstown’s Rehabilitative Care

Cliff Root and his wife, Marisa, traveled more than 400 miles and five hours from their hometown in Sheridan, Wyo., so Cliff could receive care at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital in Johnstown, Colo. And, they’ll tell you that every minute and every mile was worth it.

Almost two years ago, Root, who was 65 years old and on the cusp of retiring, suffered a massive stroke. A Vietnam veteran, Root was an active member of his community and integral in leading the economic development and policy of the state. He was an avid golfer and enjoyed participating in outdoor activities like hunting and hiking.

It was on a hiking trail with his wife that he suffered a stroke. “It was so sudden,” Root says. “Initially, I didn’t have the obvious signs of a stroke, so I wasn’t sure what was happening. I had extreme vertigo, nausea and problems with my eye, but I didn’t think it was a stroke.”

After an emergency phone call by his wife, Root was taken to a local hospital in Sheridan, Wyo. where he was diagnosed as having had a stroke. Root was unable to move his arms or legs, and he was unable to speak or communicate. It took him a while to process what had happened to him. His attending physician recommended outpatient therapy, but Root and his wife knew he needed more specialized treatment to recover. They were adamant about going to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, where his stepdaughter works. His wife drove him the whole way.

“Choosing the right care is huge,” he says. “I knew I had to come here where they specialize in stroke rehabilitation. I was inspired by the people here who believed I could recover. It gave me a foundation and made me believe in myself.”

Root says it took a lot of support and consideration from his healthcare team and his family to help him recover. “I just had to surrender,” he says. “I couldn’t communicate my thoughts or move my muscles. It took a tremendous amount of energy just to listen. When you can’t communicate, it’s easy to become isolated if those helping you aren’t tolerant and understanding. I could have become part of the background, but I didn’t. “

Root admits that his healing process was challenging, but he kept thoughts of his family in the forefront to motivate him.

“There was such a role reversal; I went from being a father to a son,” he says. “Internally, I was so angry because I didn’t want to be that way. It was a ‘too much’ moment when I realized how incapacitated I had become.”

Root says he wanted to give up at times, but with the support of his family and the healthcare team, he kept going. He worked daily with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and others on his healthcare team. After three weeks, he was able to speak and walk, and had minimum balance, hearing and vision issues. He was discharged home and continued to receive outpatient therapy. With some adaptations, Root now participates in activities he enjoys like golfing and hunting.

“I was still making adjustments after I got home, but time is a great healer,” Root says. Since his recovery, Root has shared his story numerous times with others and plans to continue to do so. “I want to offer hope and encouragement to others who have gone through what I’ve gone through,” he says. “I want them to have the courage to do what I did to recover. I hope I can be an inspiration.”

“I had a lot of people pulling for me,” he continues. “A stroke can take down anyone, but with the right care and attitude, you can live a full life again. I’m living proof. If I can do it, others can do it too!”

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Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital Provides Nationally Recognized Care to Community for 11th Year in Row

For the 11th year in a row, Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has been acknowledged for providing nationally recognized rehabilitative care to its patients. The hospital was ranked in the Top 10% of inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide for providing care that is patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“This means that in the Northern Colorado area, we’re providing the highest level of rehabilitative care available anywhere in the United States,” says Elizabeth Bullard, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “Patients and their families don’t have to leave the area to receive the latest in technology and clinical protocols – we’re providing it here in our own backyard.”

The hospital was ranked from among 781 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR). The UDSMR is a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database for medical rehabilitation outcomes.

“This national ranking speaks highly of the commitment and dedication of our employees and medical staff,” Bullard says. “Our staff is passionate about helping patients return home at their highest possible level of productivity and independence. And for anyone who has ever as had a family member or friend needing healthcare, that matters. We consider it a privilege to be able to provide this higher standard of care to our community.”

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations, along with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

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Cancer journey ‘just a speed bump’ in a blessed life

When Barbara Selden talks about her journey with breast cancer, she uses words that might surprise some people — words such as blessed, gift, gratitude and joy.

Selden serves as administrative assistant and medical staff coordinator at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital in Johnstown. It was there that she received a phone call following her yearly mammogram in February 2012.

With a strong history of breast cancer in her family, Selden, of Greeley, began getting mammograms earlier than most women. Both her mother and her maternal grandmother had had the disease. In 2009, Selden had a benign tumor removed.

She had that mammogram, her 13th, on a Thursday. “They told me if I didn’t get a call back on Friday, I’d be good,” she shared. “Sunday night I was getting my work clothes ready, and I thought, ‘Hey, they didn’t call me. I’m good for another year.’

“I came to work the next day, and they called. They had seen something suspicious. ‘We need you to come back for an ultrasound,’ they said. My first thought was, ‘They’re wasting my time.’ I was in denial.”

The ultrasound heightened concerns. Selden was sent for a biopsy, which came back positive for Stage 2 breast cancer. “It was devastating” she said. And yet, Selden is quick to point out, “I was blessed that they found it. This happened because a radiologist saw a subtle difference from the year before.”

Her physician recommended a bilateral mastectomy, followed by removal of her ovaries, because her type of cancer was, “fed by estrogen.”

During a visit with the surgeon who would perform the second surgery, another ultrasound was taken. The results led the surgeon to recommend that a hysterectomy also be performed.

“I had the bilateral done, and three weeks after that, the hysterectomy,” said Selden. “The uterus came back precancerous. Having it removed was another huge blessing.”

In spite of her family history, genetic testing showed that Selden did not carry any of the genes for breast cancer.

She expresses gratitude to her husband, daughters, family, friends and co-workers, who helped make her journey a positive experience.

After her surgeries, all Selden wanted to do was to get back to work. “It was very healing for me. I had a huge support staff here. I would take off my chemo day (Thursday) and be back to work the next day. The effects of the chemo wouldn’t hit until Saturday. I came back to work each Monday, and as the week progressed, I got better.” And so it went for the 18 weeks of her chemotherapy.

“I felt like being here at work with my friends was very healing for me and helped me move forward,” she said. “We have patients here who don’t have a limb, and they’re as happy as can be. I had no hair, and I was so caught up in it. It was then I realized, we can be victims, or we can find the blessings.

“I tried to think of my journey, my cancer, as a speed bump in my life,” she added. “It wasn’t a road block. I just needed to slow down to take care of this. It caused me to be healthier.”

Next year, Selden will celebrate her five-year anniversary of being diagnosed. Her mother-in-law, who also had breast cancer, will celebrate her 10th anniversary. Her mother will be celebrating 19 years of being cancer free.”

Selden’s experiences have led her to reach out to others and serve as a mentor to other women facing breast cancer. Physicians, friends and co-workers often refer someone they know, who has been recently diagnosed, to her.

I like to let people know there is hope. There are so many options, so many resources that people don’t know about. I don’t want to tell anybody what to do, but I do want to be a resource,” she said. “I want to give them ideas on things I didn’t know about that I now know can help them.”

One example Selden shares was learning, the hard way, that chemotherapy can be rough on bones. Approximately one year after ending her chemotherapy, she fractured her pelvis. Had she known her bone density was a problem before she began treatment, a medication could have been added to her infusions that might have prevented the problem. That information now holds a place of importance on her list of “things to do before chemo” that she shares with other women.

Barbara Selden finds joy mentoring women facing breast cancer by sending cards, letters, care packages, informational packages and by offering a listening ear.

She encourages women to be advocates for themselves. “Learn,” she tells them. “If you don’t understand what the doctor is saying, ask again. Don’t walk away pretending you understand if you don’t, because this is all about you and you getting the help that you need.”


By Jeannie Lancaster – Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

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Take a shot at avoiding the Flu

By Jeannie Lancaster, Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back in school. The leaves will soon be changing, and before we know it, flu season will be upon us.

But instead of just sitting back and dreading its advance, there is something one can do to take action — get the shot.

Flu vaccinations are now available in most doctor’s offices, pharmacies and public health agencies.

Understanding the importance of flu vaccination, Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital in conjunction with Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is offering a limited number of free flu shots to local residents on Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Free vaccinations will be limited to the first 180 registrants. Registration will be taken through Sept. 18. To schedule a vaccination time, call 970-619-3400.

“We do this yearly,” said Kristin Klipp, marketing coordinator for the two hospitals. “We’re really hoping to fill those spots this year. We give to the community by keeping the community well.”

Dr. Nathan Swartz, staff physician at the two hospitals, noted that the reasons for individuals to get a flu shot are two-fold. “First, to prevent them from getting the flu virus, but also to prevent them from spreading it to those who are at risk for developing complications from the flu. This includes older individuals, the young, those who are immune compromised and individuals with multiple medical problems.”

The Larimer County website notes that, “Every year an estimated 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized from flu complications like pneumonia.”

Swartz, Larimer County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all stress the importance of those 6 months and older getting the vaccination. Some children may require two doses of the vaccine.

The CDC also recommends that, “This season, only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) should be used. Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses and some protect against four flu viruses.”

In a change from past years, the CDC is recommending that the nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) not be used during the 2016-17 influenza season, “because of concerns about this vaccine’s effectiveness.”

Is there a chance you may still get the flu, even if you have had the vaccination? Yes. It takes two weeks after the shot for the body to build up the antibodies that provide protection. If you are exposed before or during that two weeks, you can still get the flu. Also, you may be exposed to a flu virus that is not covered by the vaccine. Extensive research goes into choosing which viruses to target, but the CDC points out, “Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.”

There is often confusion about what the flu really is. One thing that can add to the confusion is that, “the flu can affect different people in different ways,” said Swartz.

“‘Stomach flu’ is a popular term for stomach or intestinal disease, whereas the flu is a respiratory (lung) disease,” wrote the CDC. “People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also can occur with flu, but are more common in children than adults.”

If you do suspect you have the flu, especially if you are at high risk for complications from the flu, check with your health care provider. He/she may run a test to determine if you truly do have the flu. If so, an antiviral drug may be prescribed. The CDC noted that these drugs work best if they are started within two days of getting sick.

Getting a flu vaccination is the most important step you can take to prevent yourself from getting the disease. To help prevent spreading the disease, if you are ill, stay away from sick people and those who are at high risk for complications such as babies under 6 months of age, who cannot receive the vaccination. If you have the flu, stay home from work and school.

It’s impossible to predict what this flu season will be like, but a few headlines from last year’s flu season provide a powerful insight into the impact the flu has had previously in Northern Colorado. Among them: “Severe Flu Season Hits Elderly Hard in Larimer County,” “Colorado in Grip of Widespread Flu Outbreak” and “Larimer County’s Young Hit Hard by Flu.”

Photo credit: Medical assistant Lindsay Cooper gives Jaxon Cabrera of Loveland a flu shot at the Banner Medical Clinic in this file photo from January 2013. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald file photo)

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Olympic Send-Off Celebration for Janay DeLoach

Going for the Gold!

 Join Fort Collin’s Janay DeLoach who is on her way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro to compete the long jump competition!

Olympic Send-Off Celebration for Janay DeLoach

 

Friday, August 5 at 6 p.m.

Old Town Square

Fort Collins, Colo.

 

For more information, call 970-619-3458 or visit her Facebook Page and GoFundMe Page

Janay is an occupational therapist at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital who won a bronze medal for the high jump at the 2012 Olympics. Let’s cheer her on as she goes for her second medal!

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Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities Recommended for Stroke Recovery

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recently issued its first guidelines regarding rehabilitation after a stroke. In the guidelines, the organization recommends inpatient facilities for stroke rehabilitation.

“Many people survive strokes with some levels of disability,” according to Carolee J. Winstein, Ph.D., P.T., and lead author of the new scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke. “There is increasing evidence that rehabilitation can have a big impact on the survivors’ quality of life.”

Whenever possible, the American Stroke Association strongly recommends that stroke patients be treated at an inpatient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. An inpatient facility, which may be a free-standing facility or a separate unit of a hospital, typically provides:

• At least 3 hours of rehabilitation a day from physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists
• Nurses who are continuously available
• Daily physician visits

“If the hospital suggests sending your loved one to a skilled nursing facility after a stroke, advocate for the patient to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility instead – unless there is a good reason not to – such as being medically unable to participate in rehab,” says Winstein, who is a professor of biokinesiology and physical therapy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. “There is considerable evidence that patients benefit from the team approach in a facility that understands the importance of rehabilitation during the early period after a stroke.”

“For a person to fulfill their full potential after a stroke, there needs to be a coordinated effort and ongoing communication between a team of professionals as well as the patient, family and caregivers,” Winstein says.


Obtain the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association stroke guidelines HERE.

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Celebrating another day of survival after bout with cancer

This June 5 may have come and gone for most, but for me, it was a special day — National Cancer Survivors Day.

Yes, I’m one of the more than 14.5 million cancer survivors in the world today — and I’m celebrating! June 5 is a day of celebration for those of us who have survived. It’s also a day of inspiration for those who have been recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community. It’s a day when we as cancer survivors can show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can not only go on, it can be abundant, rewarding and inspirational.

I received my breast cancer diagnosis in February 2012. A call at work delivered the news. When a co-worker saw my distress, she took my keys, and drove me home so my husband and I could go to the physician’s office together. This act of kindness touched me and filled my heart.

And the acts of kindness continued.

I received support and encouragement from nearly everyone I know. My colleagues at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital were especially instrumental to my healing. I underwent a double mastectomy and hysterectomy followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy. It was a difficult time for me both emotionally and physically, but my co-workers offered continual care and understanding.

As my treatments progressed, I began losing my hair and became extremely self-conscious. My administrator declared a “Wear Your Hat to Work Day,” where nearly everyone in the hospital showed up wearing hats to support me. From that day, hats would be left anonymously on my desk for me to wear. One year later, I broke my pelvis and had to walk with crutches. I would leave my backpack and lunch bag by the tire of my car, and my co-workers would always find them and bring them to my office.

To be so outwardly supported was overwhelming. In a time of uncertainty and despair, I realized how truly blessed I was.

Along with my colleagues (and of course, family and friends), I also credit the patients at the hospital for helping me through my journey. When patients leave our hospital, every employee available lines the hall and creates a congratulatory tunnel for the patients to depart through. We clap and cheer. I was doing that one day when I realized some of these people have lost entire limbs, and yet they are feeling grateful, healthy and happy.

I recognized we can either be victims of our situations or we can find the blessings.

And I am blessed. Now, after being cancer-free for more than four years, I mentor other women with breast cancer. I try to never leave a day of work without helping a patient in some way. I was given so much; I want to pay forward the kindnesses I received. I want people to know life can be unfair and situations can be difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. And you can come out not only OK — but great — on the other side.

I fought the fight, and I won. My cancer’s not a bad thing. I’ve learned to be healthier and grateful. I’ve been shown more acts of love and compassion than I ever could have imagined. And I’ve learned to experience life one day at a time.

So please join me in celebrating life not only each June 5 but every day.

— Barbara Selden is a four-year cancer survivor and administrative assistant and medical staff coordinator at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital in Johnstown.


TheTribune

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