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Fitzgibbon Rehab, and Self-Determination, Help Patient Walk Again

October 07, 2022

Everett Monteer with his wife Lisa and his therapy team, Jessica Keehn (left) and Misty Teel (right).

Even after being told by multiple rehab sites that there was “nothing more they could do for him,” Everett Monteer was determined to walk again.

Monteer suffered a crippling injury on June 29, 2021, when he fell backward off a friend’s deck. The injury led to a fractured neck and spine. These injuries stole his ability to walk. However, he credits Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation for helping him regain that ability.

The Sedalia resident received care at several rehab providers in Columbia and Sedalia before making what he calls “best the decision of his life” in choosing Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation, part of Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall.

            “I spent 16 weeks in the hospital and then another six weeks at Landmark (long-term acute care) Hospital in Columbia last year. It didn’t seem like anyone had much hope that I would be able to walk again,” said Monteer. “I went to other rehabs in Columbia and Sedalia. None of the other places could help me.”

            Monteer had a family member who told him she had a good experience at Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation in Marshall. So Monteer decided to give Fitzgibbon a try this past spring in April.

            “We were amazed. We were beginning to think that Everett would not walk again. But he IS walking, thanks to them,” said Lisa Monteer, Everett’s wife of 31 years. “He has had wonderful therapy with Misty, Sharon and Jessica. They have done a lot of techniques.”

            A Fitzgibbon therapist describes how the team started rehabilitation from scratch.

            “When Everett came in, he was unable to stand. He was relying solely on his power wheelchair and his wheelchair-accessible van,” said Misty Teel, COTA/L, licensed Certified Occupational Therapist. “He had no strength in his fingers or grip and low coordination. We were starting at square one on day one. We had to strengthen his hands so he could even grasp a walker.”

            Monteer had three occupational therapy appointments and two physical therapy appointments every week from April 12 until Oct. 4. There were several milestones encountered during his treatment, but the one that brought a smile to everyone’s face was the day Monteer left his chair and walked with a walker the first time two and a half months into his treatment.

            “The day we got that walker out is something we will all remember. The way we started with the walking was with him being able to stand up and support himself,” said Jessica Keehn, PTA, Physical Therapy Assistant. “Then we got out a ceiling swing that supported him, so he could actually bring his feet forward and so he wasn’t going to fall. We worked with the parallel bars, and he began to say, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready, I can walk.’  We were still hesitant, but we made a deal with him. If he could walk two laps with the parallel bars without a single slip up then we will get the walker out. And he did it!. That was his goal for the next week. The moment we got the walker out he walked 40 feet right off the bat. It was amazing.”

            The months of physical and occupational therapy can do wonders if a person is truly engaged in their care, according to the therapy team. For Monteer, his determination was a key to his progress. The therapists agree that keeping a fun atmosphere and positive relationships the Fitzgibbon staff keeps patients encouraged to stay positive.

“He was in very good spirits, and he was eager,” said Teel. “He was ready to work as hard as he could to regain everything that he could. There was never a day when he didn’t say, ‘I’m going to walk.’ And he has proven that to be true.”

Teel added that a sense of humor through the many weeks of therapies also helped his outlook.

“There was also not a day when we didn’t laugh. His attitude throughout the whole thing was key:  that, ‘I am going to do whatever you girls tell me to do and whatever I have to do to get me better, attitude. He never wavered from the plan,” affirmed Teel.

            Another memorable milestone in Monteer’s road to recovery made his team a little nervous, but Monteer was determined to take the next steps.

            “It was very scary for us the first day he walked all the way down our sidewalk to his van. In the gym, we could control his environment,” said Keehn. “When he started walking outside, the wind could blow or any number of things could happen that we couldn’t plan for. But he wanted to do it, and he did.”

            The first day he started the walk to his van, he made it halfway and then sat back down, concluding, “I am done.” Nevertheless, he was determined that the next day he would make the full walk to the parking lot.

When Friday arrived, he not only walked to his van in the parking lot, but turned and walked all the way back to the door at the top of the ramp. Such determination was an important part of his success, say his therapists. But he doesn’t credit his own determination. He give credit to the staff at Fitzgibbon Hospital’s Rehabilitation Department.

            “I’m just so glad to my heart that these girls took care of me. They are such good help. I have come quite a ways,” said Monteer. “This is the greatest program I have ever been in.”

If you have suffered a stroke, injury or medical condition that requires physical, occupational, speech or aquatic therapy, the staff of therapists at Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation is available to assist. Fitzgibbon Hospital also offers cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services through the Buckner Wellness Center. Call (660) 831-3236 to learn more about how Fitzgibbon Hospital can help you recover.