Emily’s Rehab Journey

When Emily came to the Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Unit (CHRU), she had been in the hospital and in bed for months due to a severe respiratory illness. Previously a boisterous, independent young woman, she came to the CHRU so weak that she was unable to move anything but her fingers. She was unable to even swallow and needed help to do even the simplest tasks; just getting dressed involved complete assistance from other people. She had always used a touch-screen device to communicate prior to her illness, but she was now unable to reach the screen to make her wants and needs known. The smiley girl her parents had always known was bedridden and withdrawn.

As the weeks went by, Emily’s rehabilitation team worked together to create and adapt a program for her to begin her path to independence. Slowly, she began sitting on her own and attempting to stand. She could help with getting herself ready in the morning with less help and began using her arms. With that greater use of her arms, she was finally able to start using her communication device.

Emily continued to make incredible progress and began to reclaim her independence and with that independence, her personality began to emerge. One of her most exciting moments came when she was finally able to begin eating again. Because of the timing of her illness, Emily was not able to walk across the stage for graduation. The CHRU team made sure she was able celebrate prom and graduation, including staff in full formal wear and a walk across the CHRU “stage” for graduation.

After seven weeks, the young woman who had arrived at CHRU only able to move a few fingers graduated from rehab walking, communicating, and able to return to her life. We at CHRU could not be prouder of Emily and are honored to have been a part of her journey.

For more information on the CHRU, please call 412-692-9800 or visit www.chp.edu/chru.