Teresa's story

Teresa wearing a striped shirt and glasses and smiling

After her retirement from Hampton City Schools, 69-year-old Teresa Darden enjoys keeping busy by working with students as a school bus aide and spending time with her family. One fall day, she was spending quality time with her five-year-old granddaughter while packing her belongings in advance of moving to a new home. Teresa was taking a bag of trash out when she tripped and fell down four stairs. With Teresa unable to talk or move, her granddaughter dialed 911 for her grandmother, answering all the questions the dispatcher asked, including providing the address of her home. “I am forever grateful that God had her there that day,” Teresa said. She was rushed to Riverside Regional Hospital where she was diagnosed with a serious spinal injury.

Teresa had been to Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital before and received great care, so when it came time to be discharged from the acute care hospital after four days, she requested to return to Riverside. Upon admission, Teresa was unable to stand or walk without assistance. Teresa’s goals were to regain her ability to walk and return to her prior level of functioning. The physician-led team of physical and occupational therapists created a rehabilitation plan with Teresa’s goals in mind.

In occupational therapy, Teresa worked with her team to learn how to transfer safely from bed to a seated position to a wheelchair. They also guided her on how to use adaptive equipment to perform her personal care safely so that she could maintain as much independence as possible. Physical therapists worked with Teresa on using the LiteGait, a body-weight supporting harness that allowed her to safely re-learn how to walk. Teresa said that the harness made her feel like she was zip-lining, which she loved. As Teresa progressed, her physical therapists helped her use the treadmill to help regain strength and endurance, eventually having her walk sideways, backwards, up an incline and over obstacles while they supported her physically and emotionally. With practice, Teresa was able to go longer and faster on the treadmill each day.

Teresa says that the turning point in her recovery was when she was able to start walking with very little assistance. She credits her therapists and family as being crucial to her recovery, as their ongoing love and support helped keep her motivated to work hard each day.

After nearly four weeks at Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital, Teresa was able to walk without assistance throughout the hospital and had made a great recovery. She is particularly appreciative for her primary physical therapist, who Teresa said “pushed me beyond what I thought I could do and helped me reach my goals. I am extremely grateful for all she did to give me the confidence to work harder and believe I could do it.”

Teresa is looking forward to going home and getting back to a more normal life filled with family and friends. She is so enthusiastic about her experiences at Riverside Rehabilitation Hospital that she encourages anyone in the area to seek them out if needed, saying that “they provide the best service and the best care. I would not go anywhere else.”