Meet former Alabama Tight end and current NFL player, Brian Vogler
Brian could have traveled anywhere in the country for physical therapy, but read why he chose HPRC.
Brian Vogler isn’t the kind of guy who sits on the sidelines. The former Alabama tight end was beginning his NFL career in Chicago last summer and was looking forward to the start of the season. Unfortunately during training camp he broke his foot, which took him off the field. The injury benched the 24 year old, and he had to begin physical therapy.
Vogler could choose any facility in the country to receive therapy. He talked to some of the best in the business about the fastest way to get him playing again. That’s when he met Joel Stenslie, Clinical director of Human Performance and Rehabilitation Centers (HPRC) River Road in Columbus, Georgia. And, Vogler decided to come home for treatment.
“The NFL would pay for treatment wherever I wanted to go. I could have gone back to Tuscaloosa and work with therapists who I am familiar with, but I decided to come back here. One, because I was in my home environment, and two, because I believe Joel is one of the best in the country,” Vogler explains.
After six weeks of intense therapy, Vogler was ready to play again. He headed to Indianapolis to finish out the season with the Colts. Unfortunately, during spring training, he suffered another set back, this time with a fractured acetabulum – a broken hip.
“I felt like I was in the best shape of my life when I got hurt (the second time). You get used to injuries, but I thought I was at the best point of my life, and that was what was most frustrating,” he explains.
When it was time to choose a therapist the second time, there was no question for Vogler, he was going back to HPRC. By now he and his therapist had had formed a friendship. Stenslie told Vogler that he would always be available to help him. He was determined to push Vogler even harder and get him back in shape.
“Working with a professional athlete adds pressure. Getting him back to the next level was my primary focus. It also is easier working with someone like Brian. He understands how the body is supposed to work and how treating one area of his body effects other areas of his body,” Stenslie says.
“Joel pushed me harder because he could see what I can handle. He did stuff with me that he couldn’t do with an older person,” Vogler remembers.
Stenslie says working with someone with Vogler’s athletic ability allowed him use different techniques because of his higher level of coordination. His focus was on balancing activities and getting his hips to stabilize on all different surfaces. He also used a combination of plyometrics – exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time with the goal of increasing power - as part of his therapy.
“As a therapist you need to find restrictions of movement, weakness and compensated movements that may cause a dysfunction or pain. As with Brian, he had moderate weakness of the hip along with faulty knee positions when performing multidirectional activity. These movements added increased stress to the lateral foot. After the fracture of the hip, we were able to increase hip overall power from his hip and correct the aligment and proprioception of the lower kinetic chain to unload the foot. This is awareness and injury prevention for the future,” Stenslie explains.
HPRC is a Columbus-based Physical Therapy practice. The company also has offices in Alabama and South Carolina. The organization prides itself on a patient friendly atmosphere with the main focus of getting patients back on their feet, out of pain and being able to perform the tasks of daily living.
“When my father started this practice in 1955, his vision was focused on rebuilding and enhancing the body’s functional capability. I believe this is a vision our therapists still build on today, “ says Brian McCluskey, HPRC chairman and chief executive officer.
“Healthcare is a constantly changing field but our philosophy has not changed: to provide the best care possible and improve lives one patient at a time,” he goes on to explain.
Vogler would agree, “I feel great health wise and in shape. But I am not where I want to be yet. Luckily July is an off time in the NFL. It gives me more time to train, and do what I have to do to play in the fall.”
Meet Jeralyn Buchan
Who at 36, suffered a devastating loss of her body movements following surgery to remove a tumor on her brain stem. Read about the amazing progress she has made at HPRC.
At 36, the last thing busy wife and mom Jeralyn Buchan thought she’d have to do was learn how to speak, eat her food, or walk again.
After she developed a tumor on her brain stem in 2010 and had surgery to remove it, she was left with hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, and severe ataxia, or loss of control of her body’s movements.
“I went from totally independent to the next day, waking up and realizing that I couldn’t even swallow. I had a feeding tube. I was in a wheelchair,” says Buchan. “My vision had changed, almost like I was cross-eyed. It’s all controlled by the brain stem. I did not really understand what had happened to me.”
She faced a long road to recovery, but with extensive rehabilitation at HPRC’s Main Street Village location with her physical therapist, Laura Sherwood, and occupational therapist, Elizabeth Cain, the Lumpkin resident has made amazing progress. Buchan can walk on unpaved roads near her house without anyone’s help, talks with little trace of her illness’ effects, and cares for her two growing daughters. The only thing she can’t do is drive, she says.
Loss of Independence
In the prime of life, she’d lost her independence in just about every way, Buchan recalls. It was devastating.
“The only way I could communicate at first was this board that my husband got me, with letters I could point to. The first thing I spelled out was, ‘I am still smart.’ I wanted them to know,” she says. “I was in the hospital at Thanksgiving, and I remember that I could not even eat anything. I thought, ‘What in the world?’”
Steroids therapy gave Buchan a rare psychotic reaction, so her husband flew her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for treatment and intensive therapy, which was “very hard to do,” she recalls. She needed surgeries to restore her eye alignment. After therapy in clinics in Phenix City, Alabama, and Atlanta, she came to HPRC in Columbus to start physical and occupational therapy in 2012. She knew there would be no quick fixes.
“It’s not like I can have therapy for one week and be done with it. I have to have this for the rest of my life,” she says. Buchan even had to battle with her insurance company to cover the extensive therapy she needed to become independent again, because they said her situation was no longer catastrophic. “But me and my family’s lives were catastrophically changed forever.”
In her first physical therapy sessions at HPRC, Buchan was “a little timid and unsure of herself,” says Sherwood, who has worked with her for more than two and a half years. “She was still very unstable and having to walk on a walker for all of her ambulation. She was also very eager to get better, so she could be more active like she used to be, especially with two young children.”
Sherwood continues to give her a variety of tasks to master, including creating obstacles so she builds arm and leg strength, and exercises both on a treadmill and outdoors. Variety not only improves her mobility and steadiness, but also keeps her from getting bored with therapy, says Buchan.
“I like to be challenged. She has me go out into the yard at the clinic and pick up pinecones, going up and down. Working with Laura, my balance is now to the point where I can do that,” she says. “When I came to her, I was in a walker. But about a month ago, I walked from my house to my sister-in-law’s house, which is about a half-mile. Yes, my husband was with me, but I never thought I’d be able to do that. People may say a half-mile is nothing, but to me, it’s a marathon!”
Hard Work, Miraculous Change
Long stretches in a hospital bed weakened her muscles, so Buchan has worked hard to restore her strength and muscle mass. She continues both physical and occupational therapy to improve deficits in the use of her right, upper extremity, which affects her abilities to perform daily tasks like walking or using a pen.
“I have to strengthen my right side. My muscles now work, but my right leg is weak, so I put all of my weight on my left leg instead of balancing my weight,” she says. In addition to her physical therapy, she continues occupational therapy to improve the motor skills in her right hand so she can write. “I’m right-handed, so I tried and can do some things with my left hand, but I couldn’t write. On my right side, my leg is weak and so is my hand. Earlier, I was doing girl push-ups, but now, I can do men’s push-ups.”
Her great progress is the result of Buchan’s strong will and work ethic, says Cain, her occupational therapist. From the start, she knew she had a patient who would be likely to succeed, she says.
“Jeralyn has overcome so many obstacles since the beginning of her treatments with Occupational Therapy. She keeps a notebook of all of her exercises and brings them to each therapy session,” says Cain. “She brings such joy and enthusiasm to everyone around her with her infectious, positive outlook on life. She’s able to do just about anything, and is able to control the ataxia that has limited her daily activities. Seeing her progress and achieve her goals will burn in my memory forever.”
What keeps Buchan going through years of therapy at HPRC? For her, it’s all about being there for her daughters, now 8 and 11.
“I do have my pity parties from time to time, and Laura and Elizabeth see that. It’s so not fair, but then I get over it, and I go on,” says Buchan. “I have often thought, ‘If I don’t keep trying, then I won’t be able to walk.’ Physical and occupational therapy are so important. It takes a special type of person to be a therapist. Every patient is different, and they have to adapt to that. They do a miraculous job just keeping my spirits up so I can do what I have to do.”
At HPRC, therapists don’t just rehabilitate their patients’ physical strength or skills, but help them stay focused on their long-term goals, like walking their children to the school bus.
“Even though we struggle some days to find motivation in the both of us—patient and therapist—the small milestones make it all worth it,” says Sherwood. “My patients are why I wanted to become a therapist. You become a part of each other’s lives. Knowing that you helped them achieve something they have been wanting to do so badly is abundantly satisfying.”
Buchan appreciates the commitment that her two therapists at HPRC offer her week in and week out.
“They have to be so patient. They know that it’s going to take a long time. Some days, you see nothing happening. Then one day, a miraculous change happens in how you can do things,” she says. “I just love to go to therapy! I love to talk to people. The only way to get through this is to be positive.”
Meet Air Force Veteran, Michael Jones
Michael trusted HPRC to help him get out of his wheelchair and get back to an independent lifestyle following an amputation of his lower leg.
As he faced his recovery from the amputation of his right leg above the knee in September 2014, Michael Jones knew that rehabilitation would be a long, tough process. His goal: Getting out of his wheelchair and back to an independent lifestyle.
“I was weak in my arms and legs. My muscles were just mush,” says Jones, 56. “First of all, I needed to build up strength in my left leg, and rebuild the strength in my hip that I’d lost by spending five months in the hospital.”
Jones, an Air Force veteran, required amputation after a life-threatening infection in his foot spread into his lower leg. His diabetes had numbed some of the feeling in his feet, so he didn’t feel the pain until it was out of control, he says. He required four operations and two separate courses of rehab, because of infections, bleeding, and difficulty adjusting to two different types of prosthetic legs.
“I was fitted with the prosthesis when I was out of the hospital, and everything had healed. But using it has been a real challenge,” says Jones. He chose HPRC’s St. Francis Rehabilitation Center at Main Street Village for his rehab after his orthopedic surgeon recommended it. The clinic, located on Veterans Parkway, offered a full range of medical resources in case he might need it at any point, he felt. Medical and Health Resources, a division of HPRC, made the prosthesis for Jones and is located in the same building.
“Everything is right there. If there was going to be any problem, St. Francis is right there, and the prosthetist is there to make adjustments,” he says. Jones began his rehabilitation at HPRC in March 2015 for a two-month stint, then after medical treatment, went back for a six-month stint later that year. At first, he came to the clinic three times a week, but now only needs one session per week. He has gone from a wheelchair to using a rolling walker, and is now working toward a goal of walking with a cane.
Independence is important to Jones, who lives alone in his south Columbus home. While his nieces help him with some tasks like vacuuming, he doesn’t want to rely on others for most of his daily needs. That’s why he put so much energy into his rehab at HPRC.
“I didn’t want to have nurses. I wanted to be able to cook my own meals and take care of my own business.”
Determination Pays Off
He started his journey back to independence with small amounts of cardiovascular exercise on a rowing machine to build up his upper-body strength, and moving back and forth on parallel bars to improve his balance. His prosthetic leg has a locking mechanism in the knee joint so it doesn’t wobble when he puts his weight on it. Still, training his body to walk with it was a huge challenge that he tackled over months of work with his HPRC physical therapist, Julie King.
“I am so thankful for Julie. I wouldn’t be here today without her. We did a lot of planting, lunging, walking with a walker, and then with a cane. I have been learning how to place it and knowing how it feels when it locks. With a prosthesis, you don’t have any feeling of planting it on the ground,” he says.
With King’s help, Jones slowly learned how to balance himself, then walk with his prosthesis without falling. They worked together, step by step, to increase his stamina and stability. He started moving short distances: from the parallel bars inside the clinic to the doorway, from the doorway to the hall, from the hall to the clinic entrance, from the entrance to the sidewalk outside.
Throughout his months-long rehab, Jones was “determined” to succeed, says King.
“He has not had an easy path since he had his amputation. He has suffered medical setbacks, and yet, he continues to push himself and strive for a quality of life that some patients do not attain following amputation,” says King, Director of Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy at the clinic. “The greatest satisfaction that any therapist can hope for is getting a patient back to where he wants to be: actively participating in the day-to-day functional tasks that he wants to perform.”
Learning to use his prosthesis was a slow, careful process, like a toddler taking his first steps, says Jones. King worked with him on basic moves that most of us take for granted, including stepping up and down off the curb, or sitting down in and standing up from a chair. She helped him adopt techniques to avoid dangerous slips and falls. When he’d stumble, therapists at the clinic caught him before he could hit the floor and suffer a serious injury.
“People think you get a new leg, put weight on it and start walking. But, no! It has to become a part of you,” says Jones. He also worked with the prosthetist to adjust his new leg eight different times so it fit properly and was the correct height. He’s also had kidney failure and is on dialysis, so his weight can fluctuate with changing body fluid levels. Sudden shifts throughout the day can affect pressure on his prosthesis, he says.
“The therapists at HPRC do a lot on the fly. I can’t imagine the schooling they must have to go through to master an understanding of all the muscle movement they see,” says Jones, who worked with King to progress from walking 200 steps to 1,000 steps a day in one hour. “Everyone has a different degree of balance. Some people, no matter how fit they are, just can’t do certain things. The therapists have to say, ‘Can I push this person?’”
King recalls one clinic session with Jones after he’d been able to attend a family birthday party. One of his goals for his rehab was to be able to fully participate in joyful life experiences with the people he loves – not just observe from a wheelchair on the sidelines.
“He was so proud of his hard work, and was bound and determined that he was going to walk into the party, even though he had to go down a ramp and across a parking lot,” says King. “His family was completely taken aback with his ability to ambulate into the party venue. He was so excited telling me about his family’s reaction!”
Rehab after amputation is a long, tough process full of sweat-inducing physical work, setbacks that can dampen the spirit, and triumphs that stir the soul. Jones has been through all of that, and is grateful to King and the staff at HPRC for their emotional support.
“That is very important to me in the long haul that I’ve had. I’ve had many peaks, many valleys, ups and downs. I have my emotional days when I didn’t think I would make it, when I say to myself, ‘Why me?’” says Jones. “The guidance and emotional support I’ve had from my therapists kept me going.”
Jones’ determination to achieve his goals made those months of hard work pay off, says King.
“Michael is a therapist’s dream patient because of his perseverance, his dedication, and his positive attitude. I am so proud to have played a small role in his recovery and return to a functional, independent lifestyle!” she says.
Jones says he and so many other Columbus residents like him couldn’t enjoy that independence without the rehabilitation services that HPRC offers – along with the caring environment it provides.
“It’s a small place, but it has a big impact on a lot of people.”
After experiencing severe neck pain for several months, my doctor, a neurosurgeon, referred me for therapy at HPRC. Desperately seeking relief I looked forward to starting the sessions. After only a few visits with Dr. Kaitlin Hunt I could not believe the difference! Dr. Hunt had me feeling pain free and back to enjoying my normal activities. I highly recommend Dr. Hunt and HPRC!Buddy Roberts
My therapist was friendly, professional and extremely focused on my healing. I’d recommend her highly!Dick Carlson
Having this be my first experience with PT for my neck and back I am truly amazed at the results. It has been an eye opening experience that PT can make the difference in healing from injury.Donna Cantrell
The staff here are absolutely incredible. Suzanne was my sons Occupational Therapist and Ashley was the Speech Therapist for both my son and daughter. Miss Cheryl at the front desk is such a doll too, we are surely going to miss them all when we move to Ohio next week.Jamie Leigh McKay
I was treated with professional care and with respect & kindness. I would go to this office again if my doctor referred me. Thank you for all you did for me. I am much better now.Reba Autry, Lexington
Very professional & knowledgeable staff that treats every individual respectfullyMarion
Kelly is awesome! I have improved by leaps & bounds!Bryanne Curry
Kelly is a exceptional physical therapist and I would recommend or refer her to anyone needing PT.Robert Hendricks
Professional, friendly, caring & knowledgeable staff. Will definitely refer others.Kathy Kendall