Shelley's story*

Shelley Jasper, 48, was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer in September of 2013. She underwent a right breast mastectomy and reconstruction surgery that November. She was cancer-free for four and a half years, but in February 2018, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer that had progressed to her liver as well. As part of her routine cancer scans, an aneurysm was also found in her brain. In May, she underwent an embolization procedure to correct the malformation. During the procedure, Shelley experienced a stroke and the next day was unable to move her left leg from the knee down. She spent a week in the ICU, and once medically stable, was transferred to Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital.

When Shelley arrived, she was functioning at a very high level due to the strength of her right leg and both arms. She was able to get around with a walker by herself and perform activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and feeding without physical assistance. Her biggest goals were to be able to walk, ride her motorcycle, spend time with her children and play with her granddaughters again.

Despite requiring minimal physical assistance, Shelley still struggled with balance deficits and left leg weakness that hindered her ability to return home. To address these issues, Shelley’s physical therapy team focused on high-level activities to improve her balance and left leg strength. Shelley performed lunges, side steps and step-ups on a balance ball as well as walking on various surfaces. Additionally, her physical therapists had Shelley complete high-level strengthening activities to address her left leg impairments and improve her walking. To improve the strength in the small muscles of her foot, her therapists had her pick up dominoes with her toes. With each session, Shelley's balance and strength improved.

In occupational therapy, Shelley worked on improving her balance and reaching capabilities by practicing bending down to retrieve objects in the kitchen and placing them on higher shelves. She also progressed from needing to sit for safety in the shower to standing for the entirety of her shower.

After one week, Shelley was ready for discharge, able to safely maintain balance while completing functional activities without any assistance. Shelley was looking forward to being back in her own home and looking forward to the day she can ride her motorcycle again.

Shelley plans to continue therapy at an outpatient clinic to further improve her left leg strength and balance. Her advice she gives to future patients is “to be coachable and listen.” She describes her inpatient rehabilitation experience as excellent due to the “loving and supportive staff.”

*Patient success stories from across our hospital network.