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DAVE’S STORY – Drumming His Way Back to Independence

DAVE’S STORYDave Miller, 52, was the typical active young man. He worked for a roofing company for more than 30 years, enjoyed water and snow skiing, boating, working in the yard, and watching sports.

In May 2015, he noticed intermittent sharp pains in his legs. Shortly after that, he experienced trouble walking and eventually was unable to get up. He sought answers by going to the emergency room each time, and after three visits, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.

Dave was admitted to the hospital for four weeks, where he was soon placed on a ventilator to keep him alive, completely paralyzed. From the hospital, he was discharged to a long-term acute care hospital, where he spent 16 weeks resting and recovering. He was eventually weaned off the ventilator and deemed physically ready for intensive rehabilitation. He arrived at MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital in a wheelchair, with his main goal of being able to walk again. In addition to walking, Dave had to relearn many of his activities of daily living so he could take care of himself again. Getting dressed and eating proved to be extremely difficult for Dave. But, he knew he had the perfect therapy team to help him reach his goals.

“Everyone was very positive and pushed me in a good way,” he said.
After five weeks of intensive inpatient therapy, Dave reached his goal and walked out of MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital using only a walker and wearing an ankle-foot orthotic on each foot, returning home to his fianceé.

Dave began home health right away to continue regaining his strength and physical abilities. After 14 weeks of this form of rehabilitation, he visited outpatient therapy at MidAmerica three times a week.

In outpatient therapy, Dave continued improving his strength and flexibility using various technologies such as Dynavision™, but he also discovered a way to incorporate one of his favorite things into his therapy. He loves music, previously being the drummer in a band. So, he dusted off his drumsticks and started playing in his basement. He was delighted to find that his stiff arms and legs started working a little better while playing, and mentioned this to his outpatient therapist. Ironically, his outpatient therapist was also a drummer, so she brought her small set into the clinic, incorporating drumming into his therapy program.

Nearly two years after his initial diagnosis of Guillain-Barré, Dave continues his outpatient visits and now walks completely unassisted.

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