Bob Miller, 59, is a real estate broker and a law enforcement retiree. Bob has lived in Lake Placid, New York, a small Adirondack mountain village that he loves dearly, for over 30 years. One November, Bob was enjoying an idyllic vacation in the Caribbean when he suddenly became unable to stand after eating breakfast. His legs felt numb and within five hours, he was unconscious and paralyzed.
Three days later in a local hospital, Bob was flown to a hospital in Miami where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. There, Bob spent the next 20 days in a coma and on a ventilator. Unable to eat, speak or move, he was transitioned to Select Specialty Hospital – Miami, a critical illness recovery hospital, for extended care and recovery.
Knowing that Bob was going to require intensive rehabilitation after successfully liberating from the ventilator at Select Specialty Hospital, his family toured West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital as the next step in his journey.
Upon admission to West Gables in early January, Bob’s initial goal was simply to walk again. To help achieve this goal as well as increase his independence, Bob’s physician-led care team began a regimen of physical, occupational and speech therapy.
To get Bob up and moving, physical therapists used the LiteGait, a device that simultaneously controls weight bearing, posture and balance using a harness over a treadmill or the ground. This helped Bob rebuild his strength and balance over time. He also used the Bioness Vector, a body weight support harness system that is mounted on the ceiling and designed to support mobility and balance training while virtually eliminating the risk of falls and injuries.
In occupational therapy, Bob worked on progressing his ability to perform activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing so he could become more independent. They also worked on improving overall endurance using light therapeutic exercises.
Though Bob didn’t think there was a specific turning point in his recovery, he acknowledged achieving milestones such as the day he stood on his own and the first time walking unassisted were big motivators. As part of his physical therapy, Bob’s therapists also took him kayaking, which is something he loved to do before his illness. Bob said that that outing “really lifted my spirits to get out of the hospital and enjoy the outdoors while still recovering.”
Bob also credits the support of his family, stating that they were “instrumental in my recovery, and their support has been exceptional.” Bob’s family underwent training on tasks such as helping him get in and out of the car and learning how to assist in the case of a fall, giving everyone more confidence in Bob’s transition to home.
Upon discharge, Bob described his rehabilitation experience at West Gables as “outstanding,” and is extremely grateful to the PT and OT staff for helping him recover and live an active life. Bob described the experience as “humbling,” as he had realized how much he took for granted before his illness.
After 78 days of hospitalization, Bob was excited to be on the road back to home in Lake Placid and the thought of getting back to his active lifestyle of skiing, hiking, kayaking and boating.