News/Blog

Recognized Among Top 10% in the Nation

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital has been named in the Top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 12th year in a row. The hospital’s care was cited as being as being patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“We strive to deliver this higher level of care as our standard,” says Beth Bullard, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “We have graciously been recognized as a top performing facility for many years now, but we never take it for granted. Our staff is exceptionally passionate about helping patients reach their full potential through the care we provide. We work daily to ensure patients are reaching their highest levels of ability and independence.”

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked in the Top 10 percent from among 870 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database of rehabilitation outcomes.

“If you take into account that a national study has previously shown that inpatient rehabilitation facilities provide better long-term results for patients, being ranked at the top of that group validates the quality of care we provide,” says Dr. Revelyn Arrogante, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, referencing a study commissioned by the ARA Research Institute that showed patients treated in inpatient facilities experienced improved quality of life as compared to skilled nursing facilities.

“To provide the highest level of rehabilitative care available in the United States to our own community is truly rewarding,” Arrogante says. “This means our family, friends, and colleagues don’t need to leave the area to receive the best care available.”

Through the UDSMR, Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital also will collaborate with peers throughout the nation to share information and establish best practices for patients. “This helps elevate rehabilitative care for everyone across the United States,” Arrogante says.

Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from or living with disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Recognize a Concussion

Any bump or blow to the head has concussion potential. Concussion symptoms may occur immediately or days/weeks later and can include:

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

If you suspect someone may be experiencing a concussion after a blow to the head, ask these questions immediately then again a few minutes later. If the individual doesn’t know the answers or seems confused, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

  • 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
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Heads up on Biking Safety

Bike riding is one of America’s favorite past times, especially for children. But every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26,000 bicycle-related injuries to children and adolescents result in traumatic brain injuries.

A brain injury in a child can have more of a harmful impact because a child’s brain is continuously undergoing development. An injury can alter, or even halt, certain developments of the brain.

The good news is that there are several easy ways to help prevent brain injuries while your child is riding a bike:

  1. Properly Fitted Helmet – wearing a properly fitted helmet every time you and your child ride a bike is the main way to prevent brain injury.
  2. Follow the Rules of the Road – by teaching your child to go with the flow of traffic on the right-side of the road, what hand signals to use and when, and what the different traffic signs and signals mean can help your child stay safe.
  3. Reflectors – attach a front headlight and a rear red reflector to your child’s bike. If your child is riding beyond daylight hours, have him or her wear reflective clothing, as well.

Be a role-model to your child. Go biking as a family and practice biking skills and safety together. Wear your properly fitted helmet, follow the rules of the road, and attach reflectors to your own bike so that your child can witness biking safety first-hand. By using these safety precautions, you can help prevent brain injuries in not only your child, but yourself, as well.

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Blood Pressure – Understanding the Numbers

New guidelines released this past fall by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have changed the way you should be looking at your blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure is now defined as 130/80 and higher, which differs from the older definition of high blood pressure as 140/90 or higher.

But what exactly is blood pressure, and what do these numbers mean?

Blood pressure is the pressure your blood puts on the walls of blood vessels as it circulates through your body. High blood pressure is when the force of the circulating blood is consistently too high, putting individuals at risk for health issues such as strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure among other conditions.

When an individual has his or her blood pressure taken, two numbers are given – a top number and a bottom number (i.e. 120/80). The top number represents the systolic number, which indicates how much pressure the blood is exerting against the artery walls as the heart beats. The bottom number represents diastolic pressure, or how much pressure the blood is exerting on the artery walls in between the heart beats when the heart is at rest.

According to the American Heart Association, ideal blood pressure is less than 120/80.

High blood pressure doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms, so having your blood pressure tested by a healthcare professional and knowing your numbers is the best way to protect yourself. While it can’t be cured, high blood pressure can be managed through lifestyle changes and even medication when necessary. Be sure to discuss your blood pressure with your physician.

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Exercise – Put Your Heart Into It!

According to Strava, a social network for athletes, most people by now have given up on their New Year’s resolutions (“Quitters’ Day” was officially Jan. 12). For those whose healthy resolutions may have fallen victim to that day, here is something to consider: According to the American Heart Association, moderate-intensity exercise is important in preventing heart disease and stroke, which are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, respectively.

So, how do you gauge if your exercise is at the “moderate” level?

First, pay attention to how hard you think your body is working (this is called perceived exertion). Take note of how heavy you’re breathing, how much you’re sweating, and how tired your muscles feel. Studies have shown that an individual’s perceived exertion correlates to his or her heart rate. This means that if you feel like you’re working hard, your heart rate is probably higher.

You can estimate if you’re reaching the moderate-intensity level of an activity by using perceived exertion. In general, on a scale of 1-20, a moderate-intensity activity would feel like an 11-14.
Other clues of this level of exercise include:

  • Breaking a light sweat at about 10 minutes into the exercise
  • Quickened breathing, but you’re not out of breath
  • Being able to carry on a conversation while performing the activity

Moderate-intensity exercises can include brisk walking, biking, pushing a lawn mower, water aerobics, doubles tennis, gardening, and ballroom dancing, among other activities. So, take your pick!

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Exercise for Older Adults — It’s Never too Late

This past July, 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins became the oldest female athlete ever to compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championship, shaving 6 seconds off the world record for 100 meters. Want to be more impressed? She took up running merely a year earlier when she was 100 years old!

It goes to show that it’s never too late to begin exercising. No matter your age, it’s possible to stay active at every stage of your life. Consider the benefits of exercise, which include disease prevention, energy boosts, pain and weight management, improved mood and memory, and more.

With any exercise program, be sure to get clearance from your doctor first.

Here are some ideas you may want consider in developing a well-rounded exercise program:

  • Balance & Flexibility Exercises – To help with standing, stability, and flexibility. Try yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
  • Cardio Exercises – To get your heart pumping. Try walking, swimming, hiking, dancing, tennis, classes at a local gym.
  • Strength Training – To build muscle and prevent loss of bone mass. Try free weights, weight machines, elastic bands, or exercises that use your own body weight.
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Heads Up on Preventing Brain Injuries

With the Winter Olympics on the horizon, many of us will be privy to some amazing athletic feats. But, a downside of this popular event includes the head injuries that have been known to come with the territory.

In the past, American Jackie Hernandez slid unconscious against the snow after hitting her head during a snowboard cross event. British halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire suffered a concussion during a training session. Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancochova cracked her helmet during a fall during the slopestyle final. And at 20 years old, American snowboarder Trevor Jacob had already suffered at least 25 concussions.

While the majority of us don’t live the dare-devil lives of many of these athletes, we’re all at risk for head injuries with everyday activities. Brain injuries don’t discriminate and can occur anytime, anywhere…with anyone.

With a little planning, however, brain injuries can be prevented. And, it doesn’t take epic – or Olympian – effort:

  • Wear your seatbelt every time you’re in a car.
  • Buckle your child in the right safety seat, booster or seat belt based upon your child’s age and weight.
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Shut your cell phone off while in the car. Don’t talk. Don’t text.
  • Wear a helmet. And, make sure your children wear helmets with appropriate activities.
  • For older adults, remove tripping hazards like throw rugs or clutter in in the home. Use non-slip mats in the bathroom and grab bars near the shower or toilet. Install handrails on all stairs. Improve lighting throughout the house.
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Brighten the Holidays for a Hospitalized Loved One

If you have a friend or family member in the hospital during the holidays, there are numerous ways to help brighten his or her spirits and spread some holiday cheer (with pre-approval from the hospital staff, of course):

  1. Help relieve the patient’s stress. If your family member is concerned or worried about tasks that he or she usually performs around the holidays, offer to help. Purchase presents or address holiday cards for the individual (you may even be able to shop online or work on cards together at the hospital).
  2. Decorate the patient’s room with a small tree, menorah, festive blanket, New Year’s hats, or even some drawings from children in your family.
  3. Bring the holidays to the hospital. If your loved one is receiving cards and presents at home, bring them to share. If you’re giving a holiday present, consider something that may be of use in the hospital, like a book or warm socks.
  4. If allowed, bring your loved one special treats or meals that he or she associates with the holidays. In addition, hospital cafeterias often provide special holiday meals that are offered to patients and visitors.
  5. Bring holiday DVDs or music to watch and listen to together in the room.

Most importantly, remember that your loved one is in the hospital to heal, so don’t overwhelm him or her. Typically, you’ll want to keep your visiting time short to allow plenty of time for rest and sleep, which is critical to recovery.

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Tis the Season…for Colds & the Flu

It’s that time of year again. Cold and flu season.

A common cold and the flu are similar because they’re both respiratory illnesses. Even though they’re caused by different viruses, they share many of the same symptoms. This makes it hard to know for sure which you may have unless you visit your doctor.

Symptoms for both illnesses can include a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. However, flu symptoms tend to be worse than cold symptoms, and people with colds are more likely to have runny or stuffy noses.

A cold usually doesn’t result in serious health problems, but the flu can. While most folks can recover from the flu in less than a couple weeks, it can lead to respiratory complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, and bacterial infections. In the worst cases, these complications can lead to hospitalization.

While anyone can get severely sick from the flu, groups at higher risk for complications include adults older than 65, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, or individuals with compromised immune systems.

So how can you prevent these illnesses? Some suggestions include:

  • Stay away from anyone who is sick, and stay away from others when you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often throughout the day with hot water and soap. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if hand-washing isn’t possible.
  • Don’t share utensils, cups, toothbrushes, towels or any other personal items.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Limit what you touch when in public, such as stairway rails. Wash your hands soon after touching.
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise regularly.
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10 Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring, giving, sharing.

For most people, the holidays bring out the best in us when it comes to going the extra mile. But for those who are family caregivers, this is a description of everyday life.

Whether you became a caregiver suddenly (grandma had a stroke), or gradually (aging parents), taking care of a loved one in addition to having a career, family, and children can be a challenge. So, how can a caregiver do it all?

Below are 10 tips for family caregivers provided by the Caregiver Action Network:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Take respite breaks often. Caregiving is hard work.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression. Don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it’s up-to-date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
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3 Stretches for a Good Morning

Can’t quite wake up in the morning?

A few good stretches can help you relieve muscle tension, increase circulation, and even help release endorphins (those hormones that make you feel good).
“Wake up” your muscles and add a little energy to your mornings with these three stretches below*:

  1. Knees to Chest
    This stretch lengthens tight lower back muscles and can decrease back pain. Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor or bed. Brings your hands to rest either behind the knees or right below the knee caps. Slowly bring both knees toward your     chest using both hands to gently pull the knees inward. Hold 20-30 seconds, return to start position.
  2. Upward Stretch
    Lace your fingers together and raise your hands above your head, palms facing upward. Elongate your spine and feel the stretch in your ribcage and arms. Hold for a count of 10.
  3. Neck and Shoulder Stretch
    To stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck, turn your left ear over to your left shoulder and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side to stretch out your left side. Relax for a moment and then roll your shoulders to the back, and then to the front. Then lift them up to your ears, tensing the muscles, and allow them to drop completely.

As a reminder, always check with your doctor first to make sure these exercises are safe for you.

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Diabetes, Diet & Exercise

For many, a healthy diet and regular exercise are self-prescribed ways to feel better. But for people with diabetes, diet and exercise are key to managing the disorder.

If you have diabetes, be sure to speak to your doctor about developing a healthcare plan that balances what you eat with regular physical activity.
When reviewing your diet, consider creating meal plans that include foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, such as:

  • Beans
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Citrus Fruit Nuts
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Milk and Yogurt
  • Berries

When it comes to adding exercise to your plan, a combination of both aerobic exercise and resistance training can have the most positive effect on glucose levels. Aerobic exercises help your body use insulin better, while resistance (or strength) training makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower blood glucose.

Examples of aerobic exercises include brisk walking, dancing, biking or hiking – anything that helps get your heart rate up. Strength training exercises can be done by lifting weights, using resistance bands, or using your own body weight to do squats, push-ups, or lunges.

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Treating Chronic Pain with Physical Therapy

We’ve probably all experienced the nuisance of minor pain. You get a sinus headache, you reach for a decongestant. A backache? Ibuprofen may do the trick.

But for people with chronic pain (it lasts longer than 6 months), the answer may not be as simple. That’s where physical therapy can help.

Physical therapy can help treat not only the pain, but the underlying cause of it as well. Physical therapy can help decrease pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

There are a number of ways that a physical therapist can help a person manage pain depending upon individual abilities, including:

  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Massage
  • Stretching
  • Use of modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Movement therapy

Therapeutic treatments are designed to help a person increase muscle strength, endurance, joint stability, and flexibility. In addition, it can help reduce inflammation, stiffness, and soreness. It encourages the body to heal itself by boosting the production of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Now, that seems like a smart move!

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Weekend Warriors – Battle Potential Injuries

Are you a weekend warrior?

Check “yes” if you’re someone who’s physically inactive most of the week, and then approaches exercise on the weekend with the rigor of an elite athlete.

If this is your plan of action when it comes to exercise, you may want to rethink it. Weekend warriors have a higher risk of being injured – both because of overdoing it in a short amount of time and because of poor conditioning.

Reduce your chance of hurting yourself with the following:

  • Realize that exercise doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.” Look for ways to sneak extra movement into your day.
  • Increase activity gradually. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. Break this into smaller goals for yourself so you can attain it. If three 10-minute sessions are easier for you to accomplish, then do it.
  • The “best” time of day to exercise is whatever time works for you.
  • Start at a lower intensity, and warm up before beginning an activity.
  • With any sport or exercise, always learn and use proper techniques and follow safety guidelines.
  • Put your workouts into your calendar as appointments. Be sure to keep them.
  • Wear comfortable shoes every day that you can move about easily in no matter where you are or what you’re doing…and then move!
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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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