William “Bill” Bockhorst, 64, leads New Richmond Nazarene Church and prides himself on being a full-service pastor tending to his congregation as well as the physical church. Bill was up a ladder, painting the church when he suddenly slipped.
He was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors diagnosed a cervical spinal fracture. Surgery stabilized his injury. He also experienced central cord syndrome, which impairs the brain’s ability to control the arms and hands; that would require further medical attention and additional healing time. His family chose TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital.
He arrived Sept. 27, 2017 with a primary goal in mind: be as independent as possible.
The team at TriHealth swung into action. A doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, together with specialists, nurses, pharmacists and therapists created a plan to put him back behind the pulpit.
Bill actively participated in physical and occupational therapy. Physical therapists guided him through exercises using a balance ball and therapy bands. He walked in the halls and up a set of practice stairs. Occupational therapists helped him relearn to shower, dress, open containers and the always groan-inducing plastic sock bags. He practiced hand manipulation, strength exercises and underwent electronic stimulation. Bill said he knew he was getting better when he took the lid off his toothpaste tube. “I couldn’t get it back on,” he said. “But, I realized I was able to achieve a simple task that you usually don’t have to think about in everyday life.” Bill’s most hard-won accomplishment was increasing mobility in his left hand, which has residual paralysis and swelling.
“Faith in a healing God” was the most helpful part of his recovery, according to Bill. He credits his occupational therapist Kim, physical therapists Matt and Chris and outpatient occupational therapist Ann with helping him understand his injury. Their expertise allowed him to “trust the process” and have patience. So far, he feels he’s “about 80 percent back to normal.”
As discharge approached, Bill got the green light to walk into a room unassisted. Just three weeks after he arrived, Bill was ready to go home.
Outpatient therapy continues to improve his strength and coordination, especially in his left hand. Bill is independent again, back to preaching, and he recently returned from a three-week mission trip to Turkey, Israel and Prague.
“From the time I got here to the time I left, working with this staff was a pleasure which allowed for increased focus on my recovery. The knowledge and tools that were available at this facility gave me comfort in their ability. The therapist and nurses frequently challenged and pushed me for full independence. I am grateful for all their help.”