David "Dave" Hosterman's life took an unexpected turn when a cardiac event caused him to fall and hit his head on a concrete floor. He immediately went into cardiac arrest--bystanders administered CPR to resuscitate him until the EMTs arrived. Dave arrived at Hershey Medical Center where he underwent surgery to temporarily remove a piece of skull to reduce the pressure on his brain. After three weeks in acute care, he transferred to Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital. With determination and the support of his wife, Ginny, Dave embarked on his journey of recovery.
His primary goal was to regain mobility and independence. When he arrived at the rehabilitation hospital, he couldn't walk and needed maximum assistance for transfers. Through intensive physical therapy sessions, including varying therapeutic exercises in the parallel bars, Dave steadily made progress. Slowly, his left leg started moving again. Through weight-bearing exercises and repeated completion of fine motor skill activities in occupational therapy, his left arm function returned almost fully, bolstering his motivation to keep pushing forward.
The therapists at Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital played a pivotal role in Dave's success. His physical therapist worked on rebuilding his strength, allowing him to move around in bed and walk with the assistance of a walker. Dave enhanced his balance for walking during therapy sessions in the Lite Gait, a mobile frame and sling that supported Dave's body weight to allow him to walk over solid, level ground with assistance from his therapist to advance his legs forward.
Concurrently, Dave worked with speech therapists to address cognitive deficits. He worked through conversational challenges – the ability to find the right words – and simple tasks, like completing grocery lists. As Dave’s attention, memory and executive function skills improved, he regained hope for returning to his passions – cooking, gardening, lawn work and playing golf. That hope strengthened with ongoing occupational therapy sessions that improved his ability to handle daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and using the bathroom. From total dependence, he progressed to sitting up and standing safely with the support of his therapists and his wife. Together, they worked towards the goal of preparing Dave to return home, where he looked forward to resuming his everyday activities.
Dave's journey had its difficult moments. After several weeks of therapy, he returned to the hospital for an additional brain surgery to replace the piece of skull previously removed. After recovering from the surgery, he once again returned to rehabilitation. In all, it took five weeks of daily therapy to regain movement in his left leg, but meeting this milestone further fueled his determination. He always believed he would walk again and his belief and perseverance paid off. While he uses a walker, Dave is grateful for the progress he has made, especially as he prepares for a scheduled heart surgery.
Throughout his rehabilitation, Ginny remained by Dave's side, providing unwavering support and participating in the Care Partner Program to learn how to best care for his needs. Her presence helped motivate Dave to achieve his goals: “I wanted to be able to get around, and I’m looking forward to getting home to my wife again,” he said.
After a successful heart surgery, Dave returned home and participated in outpatient therapy. He no longer needs any therapy and is back to walking unassisted and exercising on his own.