Hills’ routine continued, with the next set of goals centered on hand therapy. This consisted of relearning to use a TV remote, brushing her teeth and holding a utensil to feed herself. Oftentimes during a session, the therapists would perform active-assisted exercises, holding the upper part of Hills’ arm and guiding her hand to her mouth, while she used her own muscles to help.
To assist with Hills’ weakened hand strength, the therapists would slide thick foam onto a utensil or toothbrush to give a bigger grip. Tuck provided a makeshift cell phone stand out of a cookbook holder, so Hills could FaceTime her family without having to hold the phone.
The next phase in therapy was to have Hills stand using a tilt table. Used for patients with poor muscle control, this device is a safe way to get weight through the patient’s body as if they are standing while being completely supported with straps. Hills used these opportunities to FaceTime family, brush her teeth and eat lunch.
After almost three months of therapy, Hills was discharged from UF Health Jacksonville to continue her recovery at Brooks Rehabilitation. She lifted weights every day to strengthen arm muscles, and she eventually progressed from a wheelchair to being able to walk again.
Hills says her experience at UF Health Jacksonville was tremendous. She attributes her recovery to the staff helping her to not give up and pushing her to improve every day.
“There were plenty of times I wanted to give up because of my difficulty breathing,” said Hills. “My wonderful therapists took it upon themselves to help me get to where I am now. I can’t stress it enough — I thank God for the staff at UF Health.”