Avera Medical Minute: The importance of rural rehab options

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 9:43 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Recovering from a stroke centers on a series of therapies designed to help patients relearn skills that were either lost or impacted by the stroke. Each outcome and timeline to recovery is as unique as the patients themselves.

For Sharilyn Reemtsma, staying closer to home is helping her heal.

“It’s coming. I have a very bright outlook for my future,” said Reemtsma the day she was discharged from the inpatient rehab at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls.

“I think there’s just been overall good improvements. My legs are stronger. I can walk further. She has me jumping in the pool and I didn’t jump that well before!” said Reemtsma a few months later continuing her rehab journey from stroke at Hegg Health Center in Rock Valley, Iowa.

“We have everything all here. She’s doing PT and OT, she did speech therapy at the very beginning, but she graduated from that. She’s doing so awesome. She’s so highly motivated to come in and do things on her own. She wants to get better, so that makes it very easy on our end,” said Sara Crank, DPT who is one of the physical therapists at Hegg Health Center Avera.

Crank says having these rehab services in a patient’s home community also has an impact on motivation for recovery.

“If they are like, I’m not going to drive 45 minutes to an hour just for like three times a week, you know, to come and do this. That’s a lot to ask of somebody,” said Crank.

“For me and my husband, it would be much more stressful if we had to drive all the way into Sioux Falls. It’s just really good. You’re here with people you sort of know and you get to know. It’s just better!” said Reemtsma.

Sherilyn is her toughest critic, and even though the steps are small, her team reinforces just how significant they are.

“They keep saying, You’re doing so well, have patience and I’m not! I can be patient, but not always with myself,” laughed Reemtsma.

“There are a lot of reminders on making sure that you are making progress and then we are constantly resetting goals for her too, which is great. I mean, she’s meeting goals, so we get to set new ones for her,” said Crank.

“I’m looking forward to throwing my walker at the wall and getting a cane and then throwing that cane out the door sometime or our house, it gets hung up in the garage!” joked Reemtsma.

Ditching the cane is the only goal.

“She’s so easy to work with because she’s so motivated. And that makes our job so much easier when people really want to get better and so that drives us to be like, okay, well, let’s work on this next. And I think that is very fulfilling as a therapist to see that, too,” said Crank.

“They’re wonderful, they’re patient and they push me, but they are very encouraging as well. They’re just terrific. They’re all around. Everybody here has been just terrific. So it’s been good. It’s been really good,” said Reemtsma.

For all of her efforts in recovery, Sharilyn was honored with the Hegg Rehab Spirit Award for her attitude and positivity as she continues to rehab. For more information on therapy services go to avera.org/medicalminute.