Thomas' story

Thomas Drupp with his therapy and support team.

Working in the janitorial and sanitation industry for 25 year, Thomas “Tom” Drupp was no stranger on-the-job scrapes and cuts, but he when he developed wounds that wouldn’t heal and then developed into cellulitis, he sought treatment. Within a week of seeking care, he found himself facing sepsis, a serious infection in the bloodstream. The resulting medical journey led him to spend over two months at various acute and long term acute care hospitals for treatments of his infection and wound care before transferring to Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital to focus on recovery and getting back to his life including days spent with his wife, Sue, their daughter and mini golden doodle.

Upon arrival, Tom faced immense challenges. He could barely sit at the edge of the bed, let alone stand or walk. But he was determined to walk out of the hospital, and had the support and encouragement of his family and hospital team. The latter group had assessed Tom and mapped out a customized treatment plan for him to meet his goal.

Physical therapy (PT) worked with Tom at bedside until his blood pressure stabilized and he could safely move to the therapy gym. There, he worked on upper body strength with dumbbells and weight bars. He also worked on tolerance to upright activity to allow his blood pressure to safely adjust to no longer lying in a hospital bed all day. He performed seated and standing leg strengthening and conditioning exercises, walked in the parallel bars and used the recumbent stair stepper. With an eye toward his future, Tom also practiced getting in and out of the training car.

In ten days, Tom advanced to a rolling walker in which he was able to move short distances in the gym. He was also regularly attending group therapy where they worked on overall conditioning during group exercise sessions. Sue visited often, bolstering his morale and encouraging him in his recovery journey.

After three weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, Tom was able to climb four steps with some assistance, walk more 200 feet with his rolling walker and transfer independently. The progress motivated, “I am walking further than I did before I was hospitalized, he said. “I cannot believe it.”

Occupational therapy (OT) also helped Tom advance. When he first arrived, Tom was unable to get himself out of bed and required total assistance to complete his daily routine while in his bed. After a few days of working with OT on exercises in bed, Tom was able to sit upright in a wheelchair for a few minutes. Slowly through his efforts during PT and OT, Tom’s endurance increased and his spirit improved. Every morning, Tom had a big smile and a corny joke waiting for his first therapist.

Tom also found solace in another team member, Norway, the therapy dog who lifted his spirits much the way Tom’s own dog did. After 22 days of inpatient rehabilitation, Tom confidently walked out of the hospital – a total of 320 feet aided by a rolling walker and on the arm of Sue who would drive him to his favorite destination, home.