Following a catastrophic motor vehicle accident in early 2013, my wife JeriLynn Draper spent seven months in a hospital bed recovering from a long list of injuries that included compound fractures and lost bone fragments in both femurs and fractures in her pelvis, foot, ankle, tibia, ribs, spine, forearms, right hand, head and face. Complications increased when she suffered a massive ischemic stroke that caused temporary paralysis of all limbs and loss of sight and hearing. Jeri was on a ventilator in an induced coma for about five months. She also lost her right leg below the knee as the result of a complication while still in the ICU.
Today, Jeri is enjoying a remarkable recovery that’s been called unique by her physicians and can be attributed to the rehabilitation approach of Raj Thangamuthu, DPT, of Empower Physical Therapy and Fitness. After several less than optimistic experiences at other facilities, we found Raj. He spent more time listening than talking during our first visit, and I suspected we were in for a quantum leap forward in Jeri’s recovery. I was right.
By the time we met Raj, the only time Jeri spent out of a bed or wheelchair was when she “walked” in a pool in chest-deep water. This was a liberating experience for her, but it was very expensive and time consuming. It was hard to regulate Jeri’s movements in the water, and it required a custom-made Hoyer Lift to get her in and out of the pool.
Raj started Jeri out with some Yoga exercises. This was certainly a new approach, and to this day she continues it, and we credit the Yoga activities with saving many of her muscles from permanent atrophy.
It was about Jeri’s third therapy session with Raj when he put her on the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill®. It took all six of Raj’s crew to carefully put Jeri in the AlterG. After the thing calibrated itself and Raj started the treadmill, something truly remarkable happened. With only a fraction of her weight on her legs, my wife walked on her own (with a prosthetic on one leg) for the first time since the accident. There wasn’t’ a dry eye in the place.
In two years that followed, Jeri went through several major reconstructive surgeries on her hips, femurs and knees. Each one required long periods of non-weight bearing status, which led to more atrophy and the loss of range of motion. As soon as possible after each surgery, Jeri returned to rehabilitation with Raj and the AlterG.
Jeri’s progress continues as Raj helps her muscles adjust to her titanium orthopedic parts and her prosthetic leg. Today, she is walking in public with a standby assist and can move room to room at home on her own. She also has resumed some of her old activities.
Raj continues to use the AlterG in Jeri’s rehabilitation program, and she’s doing 2.3 mph at 80% of her body weight. With limited vision, Jeri’s functional gains and confidence have been helped by the safe body weight support of the AlterG. Plus, Raj has studied Jeri’s gait and worked through numerous pelvic rotation and an orthopedic alignment issues.
As an entrepreneur who opened his own facility, Raj’s “boutique” rehabilitation center is where you will find the best of the best handling the most complicated patients. Raj stands out for taking the time to figure out how to rehabilitate all of Jeri’s major body parts at the same time while helping her deal with the psychological and emotional impact of many tragic days.
Raj invests in an outstanding staff and leading-edge rehabilitation technology to help patients regain as much function as possible. You’ll find a collection of leading edge equipment in Empower that can’t be found in any other facility. Coupled with Raj’s experience, wisdom, and continuing commitment to his patients, successful rehabilitation is only a willing patient away at Empower Physical Therapy and Fitness.
Thanks to his desire to improve the lives of his patients, Raj exemplifies the very best in humanity. It was a no-brainer for Jeri and I to nominate Raj for AlterG’s PT Month contest, and we are proud that he was selected as the winner.
Everything happens for a reason, and we know the Lord has something planned for us. Thanks to Raj, we’ll be Empowered for our future.