John's story

John Nielson works on steps during therapy.

When 66-year-old John Nielson arrived at Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital, the challenge before him was steep. The once active Philadelphia native, who enjoyed a career commissioning power plants worldwide before running a service center, was grappling with a newfound vulnerability.

A fall caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure and the ensuing five weeks of hospitalization due to fluctuating blood pressure had left him debilitated, unable to stand or walk independently.
“I was in Harrisburg Hospital, brought there by ambulance because my blood pressure was 60/30,” John said.  “I was in the hospital for 5 weeks... I was intubated for about five days while I was there.”

Once he was medically stable, his physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help him regain his mobility and independence. John and his family chose Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital on the recommendation of trusted physicians and his daughter, an ICU nurse. His goal was straightforward but daunting: to walk and to regain his independence.

John’s physician-led team at Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital created a blend of physical and occupational therapies tailored to his needs – focused on simple, yet vital tasks of everyday living such as moving through the kitchen, performing car transfers and navigating stairs. These functional tasks were more than exercises; they were stepping-stones to reclaiming his independence.
The hospital's approach to John’s rehabilitation was holistic. The therapists, attuned to his medical complexities, knew precisely when to push forward and when to ease back, dictated by his fluctuating blood pressure. John appreciated the tailored approach, saying, “The physical and occupational therapy teams knew when to push and when to stop.”

A poignant “ah-ha” moment for John was witnessing the return of his ability to walk. Each step was a promise of returning to normalcy, and his motivation increased. His dedication was mirrored by his family’s support. His wife, Susan, participated in family training and ensured John had everything he needed for a smooth transition home.

During his stay, no detail was too small - from the adjustment of his fluid intake to the provision of an air mattress for his wound care. His diet was also a focal point, with the staff encouraging him to hydrate and nourish adequately, ensuring his strength for the journey ahead.

After three weeks of intense rehabilitation, John was ready to return to the comfort of his home, good food and the company of his beloved dog. Reflecting on his experience, John described it as excellent, highlighting the comprehensive training that prepared him for home life.

With his parting words, he shared his gratitude to every individual who played a role in his recovery at Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital: “Everyone did a top-notch job, from the CNAs to nursing staff, to therapists. They all worked together to help me achieve my goals.”