Walter's story

Walter Tucker standing in his room.

Self-motivated and fun loving—two key characteristics that draw people to retiree Walter Tucker, Jr., father and grandfather of nine, respectively. Those characteristics also made Walter a successful aerospace manufacturing engineer and served him well when faced with an unexpected injury.

Climbing into his truck one day, Walter lost his footing and fell backwards. Unable to move his legs, he was lying in the parking lot for some time before being discovered and having EMTs arrive.

In the ER, doctors found the 62-year-old’s spinal cord was damaged in the fall and caused the paralysis in his legs. Walter underwent back surgery and after he stabilized, he and his family selected TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital for recovery. Walter embraced this next step as he was motivated to return to his passions: spending time with family and friends, traveling and playing the trumpet and flugal horn.

Upon arrival at TriHealth, Walter was unable to stand on his own. He also couldn’t transfer from his bed to a chair without the help of three people and a slideboard. But after Walter’s first week of physical therapy, he needed fewer people to help him and was able to retire his slideboard. He had also progressed to working on standing endurance in the parallel bars and increasing his leg strength with leg exercises and a therapy bike. As soon as Walter began taking steps in the parallel bars, his physical therapist introduced the rolling walker. That sent Walter’s spirits soaring, giving him even more motivation to press ahead.

Occupational therapy focused on transferring from wheelchair to toilet, shower and bed, as well as self-care tasks such as showering and toileting. As Walter’s skills advanced, occupational therapy wove in family training with Walter’s wife Sandra, who visited regularly. Those visits not only encouraged Walter but also proved helpful in educating and building Sandra’s confidence since she
would be assisting Walter once he returned home. In addition to his physical and occupation therapies, Walter participated in recreational therapy—playing games such as “Name That Tune,” “Uno” and “Sorry,” and taking Tai Chi which added fun and mental relaxation to his days. “I enjoyed doing something different every day, and appreciated all the exercises and therapies that helped get me back to walking,” said Walter.

After a month at TriHealth Rehabilitation Hospital, Walter was walking over 150 feet with the rolling walker and over 50 feet independently. He was ready to return home.

Walter looked back on his journey and offered advice to anyone in a similar position: “Always stay positive and understand that everything the therapists do is towards the end goal of helping you get back to full mobility.”