Edward's story

As an orthopedic surgeon, 74-year-old Edward Stokes was used to taking care of patients. But in late March, the tables were turned when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and needed medical care.

Edward, who had begun to experience fatigue and diarrhea, was found unconscious on the floor by his housekeeper who immediately called 911. He was taken to a local hospital where they stabilized him. However, his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California for a higher level of care. He was placed on a ventilator for 12 days.

After a month in the hospital, he was ready for the next phase of his recovery at California Rehabilitation Institute.

Upon admission, Edward was unable to walk, stand or complete activities of daily living like showering and dressing. He also had difficulty processing information. His goal was to again be independent with everyday tasks. To help him achieve this, he worked with a team of occupational, physical and speech therapists.

Occupational therapists helped him practice activities of daily living such as eating, grooming as well as toilet and shower transfers. They also improved his cardiovascular fitness using cross training equipment to work his arms and legs. Balance activities were set to music which Edward really enjoyed because he loves dancing. Therapists also educated him on energy conservation techniques to increase endurance.

Physical therapists helped Edward stand and eventually walk on his own. They engaged him in exercises to strengthen his muscles which were weak from disuse and stretching to assist with back pain. They also worked on gait and balance training and fall prevention.

Speech therapists helped Edward express himself and improve thought processes. They used various swallowing techniques and treatment so Edward could safely eat food. Cognitive therapy included time management activities and functional problem-solving activities, such as how to manage medications at home.

Edward’s rehabilitation nurses provided him with 24-hour care to support his recovery from COVID-19. During his ordeal, he experienced depression and worried he might not recover. With the help of his therapists and neuropsychologists, his outlook improved greatly.

Turning points in his rehabilitation included discussing his treatment plan with the therapists and doctors, taking his first shower and participating in physical exercise. These factors helped him realize he would be able get back on his feet.

In addition to his therapy team, Edward’s wife and son were instrumental in his recovery, providing critical emotional and physical support, bringing him fresh clothes and other necessities and making arrangements for his return home.

After four weeks at Cal Rehab, Edward was prepared to return home. He admitted he was looking forward to sleeping in his own bed, eating the different foods he had been craving while in the hospital and being with his family. He also planned to continue therapy in an outpatient rehabilitation setting to build on the gains he had made.

Edward learned a lot about himself during his stay. “This process gave me a lot of strength I didn’t know I had,” said Edward. He also shared words of advice for others facing a similar challenge. “Follow the instructions of your doctors, nurses and therapists. I can’t think of any place better to recover from this coronavirus than the experience I had here.”