Back row, left to right: Pam Overton, occupational therapist assistant; Connie McAnulty, director of nursing; and Shanna Bennett, physical therapist assistant. Front row: Amy Rodgers, PTA, and Teresa Knisley, physical therapist

Connie McAnulty, director of nursing at Ridgeview Terrace of Life Care in Rutledge, Tennessee, recently got an up close and personal experience with rehabilitation at her facility.


On April 30, 2018, McAnulty experienced numbness and weakness on the right side of her body. Her family rushed her to the emergency room, and she was diagnosed with a stroke.


After spending a few days at the hospital, McAnulty discharged home and began to make plans to continue her recovery by receiving outpatient therapy at Ridgeview Terrace.


Upon evaluation, McAnulty’s primary means of mobility was a wheelchair since the stroke had left her with deficits in strength and balance that affected her ability to walk and transfer from one surface to another, such as from her bed to a chair. She also had only trace movement in her right arm. As with any other patient, the therapists developed a plan of care with her that addressed her needs, including special focus on tasks she would have to be able to perform to return to work.


McAnulty took part in physical and occupational therapies three days a week for 10 weeks. Physical therapy focused on strengthening and balance, while occupational therapy focused on restoring movement and function to her arm.


Sometimes, therapy turned into a cheering section as associates from all departments stopped by to encourage McAnulty as she took part in her sessions. She also received daily encouragement from residents who were receiving therapy as well.


McAnulty began to show improvements quickly with transfers and balance, and in just a few short sessions, was doing gait training with a hemi-walker. OT continued to focus on her arm, using electrical stimulation to help restore function.


Other associates also got involved in McAnulty’s recovery. An avid crocheter, she expressed frustration at the loss of her fine motor coordination in her right hand. Lisa Cabbage, activity director, and Randy Morgan, maintenance director, quickly put their heads together and made a built-up handle of wood to attach to her crochet hook. Meanwhile, occupational therapists were working on her handwriting skills and brainstorming ways to adapt her work environment.


“Connie was extremely motivated and always gave 100 percent with any task we gave her,” said Pam Overton, occupational therapist assistant and McAnulty’s primary OT therapist. “She always did her homework with any activities we would recommend for her to do at home.”


As McAnulty’s balance continued to improve, PT introduced new challenges every session, including quadruped activities on the mat table, progressing to gait training with no assistive device, stair training, outdoor balance activities and transfers from the floor. One treatment session even simulated driving activities, including leg control and reaction time.


“Connie was upbeat and very excited about treatment,” said Shanna Bennett, physical therapist assistant and McAnulty’s primary PT team member. “She went above and beyond anything we tried to challenge her with and made great success during her time with therapy.”


“On day one, I was rolled into the therapy gym in a wheelchair,” said McAnulty. “Our therapists treated me with compassion, encouragement and a positive attitude. They challenged me every session to do one extra, one more and to go one step further. Ten weeks later, I’m walking without an assistive device. I can feel improvement in my hand, and I can even get up from the floor. Most importantly, I’m back at work!”


McAnulty returned to work on July 19 and continues to serve in her full capacity as director of nursing.


“Connie has been the heart of Ridgeview Terrace for 39 years,” said Jennifer Henderson, executive director. “We are excited to see her return to work.”