Dennis' story

Dennis Murphy celebrates completing rehab with his wife.

Dennis Murphy, a 61-year-old husband, father, grandfather and quality supervisor in manufacturing, found himself facing unforeseen complications and setbacks following a scheduled back surgery. 
An active runner who loves hiking, going out on the water and gardening, Dennis faced numerous complications after the initial surgery, including cardiac arrest, kidney shut down, ventilation, a feeding tube and another surgery to remove his gallbladder. He lost count of all the surgeries and procedures.

For Dennis, the challenges seemed insurmountable. "When this first happened, I wasn't sure I really wanted to live, but with the work and my wife, I have changed my mind," he said. Following stabilization, Dennis required specialized rehabilitative care to regain his lost strength and independence. He decided on TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital.

“This place was highly recommended from a friend of a friend because the therapy did well for him,” he recalled.

The rehabilitation team at TriHealth worked with Dennis and his family to put a treatment plan in place. His goals were clear – to regain his ability to walk independently, to eat by mouth again and regain the use of his right arm.

Under the guidance of his physician-led team, Dennis made solid progress. In physical therapy (PT), Dennis worked on strengthening activities. “I started in the parallel bars and graduated to using a walker in the hallway. Then I did the stairs in the therapy gym and sometimes used a single point cane,” Dennis said.

In tandem with PT, his occupational therapists focused on restoring his daily living skills such as bathing and dressing, as well as addressing his right-arm function. When Dennis first started occupational therapy, he couldn’t raise his hand to touch his face. But after lots of stretching therapy and strengthening activities - including reaching exercises and bouncing a ball – he was able to reach his face, greatly helping him with his self-care tasks.

Speech therapy addressed the complexities of swallowing and lung strength, a crucial aspect of Dennis's recovery. Dennis remembered his speech therapy in detail: “Strengthening lungs, oral hygiene care, chin tucks and swallowing techniques because the muscles in my neck weren’t working right.” Although he wasn’t yet eating by mouth, he had made some progress, and his wife Jane was trained to assist with his feedings and medications.

Indeed, Dennis's family played an important role in his recovery journey. Jane remained by his side throughout, providing support and decorating his room with pictures of their grandchildren for motivation. Dennis shared, “I wouldn’t have made it without Jane, I heard her voice telling me we were in this together until we got home and to trust her. She promised me I would make it.”

As he prepared to leave TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital after 16 days of intense therapy, Dennis eagerly anticipated simple pleasures, like being at home and sleeping in his own bed.

When asked about his experience at the hospital, Dennis exclaimed, "The therapy has been excellent. We had some wonderful nurses too."

He plans to continue his recovery with a home nurse for wound care and outpatient therapy to keep working on his strength. He knows he still has hurdles to overcome, but feels confident he is on his way.

Dennis’s advice to others facing similar challenges is uplifting: "Don't give up. You've got to push yourself. Trust in the therapy. Not every day is a good day, but look at where you started and where you are now."