He was always a dancer. In fact, Jim and his wife Lydia used to win dancing competitions. They could really burn the floor with a good disco song.
But on Dec. 18, he began having chest pain, so at his doctor’s office, Jim received an EKG. “The doctor said I needed to go to Beaumont right away,” he recalls. “I drove myself there and was admitted. During the heart cath, I was given two stents, but in the course of the procedure, a piece of plaque broke away and I had a small stroke.”
The stroke affected his cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance, movement-related functions and posture. For a guy who likes to dance, this was not good news.
After two weeks on a nursing unit, Jim was moved to the new inpatient rehabilitation unit at Beaumont Hospital, Troy. “Jim joined us on Dec. 27,” says Jeffrey Buchanan, physical therapy assistant. “We started working on overall strengthening, coordination and balance. He also had some visual perception issues and was seeing double. When we were working on his balance one day, he told us his daughter was getting married and he was worried he wouldn’t be able to dance at her wedding.”
Hearing this, Jeffrey and Linda Edwards, recreational therapist, came up with a treatment plan that would get Jim on his way to kicking up his heels. It involved the Maxi Sky.
When Jim transferred to the inpatient rehab unit, he was given a balance test. It uses the Burgh Balance Scale to determine the patient’s risk of falling. Jim scored 27 out of 56, putting him at a 100 percent risk. “Linda and I worked together using the Maxi Sky, which is an assistive lifting device,” says Jeffrey. “The patient is in a harness, which is connected to a trolley attached to the ceiling, so Jim could practice dancing without worrying about falling.”
As a recreation therapist for 20 years, Linda is grateful for the Maxi Sky. “It’s a wonderful tool because the patient can’t fall,” she says. “I would never have tried dancing as therapy for someone whose balance was so poor, but now we can.”
And with that, Jim took his wife and dancing partner of 34 years into his arms and whirled her about the makeshift dance floor. Not worried about falling, he could enjoy himself and “Dancing Queen” by Abba.
“I was motivated because I wanted my life back,” Jim says. “I’ve moved from a walker to a cane, so I’m still progressing. My daughter’s wedding is in August, so I have time to work at it. She hasn’t decided what song we’ll dance to yet. Right now they’re still planning.”
As he continues to recover, Jim is grateful for the care he received. “I think the world of Dr. Maltese and the staff there,” he says. “For something like that to have happened, I couldn’t have asked for a better place.”
As for Jeffrey and Linda, they were inspired by Jim’s determination. “A story like this is why I got into this career,” says Jeffrey. “He’ll be able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. It’s something that Linda and I will always remember.”
Do you have a memorable daddy-daughter or mother-son dance moment or story? Leave a reply.