John Barnes

Steve Spicer

Medically Complex

John Barnes has led a full life as a U.S. Army Veteran, engineer, lawyer and faithful husband. Originally from South Dakota, he attended South Dakota State University before being deployed to Korea for two years during the Korean War. After attending law school, John went on to represent major manufacturing company, 3M. He’s been married for more than 30 years to his wife, Mary.

Thankfully, she was right there with John as they were eating dinner and John lost his ability to respond in mid-conversation. He was having a stroke.

John was immediately taken by ambulance to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway where he was given oxygen treatments due to extremely low oxygen levels. After 10 days in the hospital, John had stabilized and was ready to begin the recovery process.

Following his stroke, John was extremely deconditioned and suffered right side weakness. His tolerance to complete everyday activities of living was minimal and he could only managed to walk 10 feet at a time using a rolling walker with supplemental oxygen. It also took two people to help him stand up and sit down. On top of that, John suffered cognitive confusion and mild dysphagia — a condition that limited his ability to swallow his food.

But John was a fighter. He had an uphill battle and was limited by pre-existing conditions, but nothing was going to stop this Army veteran from reaching his goals and the Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Lakeway team were going to help him get there.

Through physical therapy, John was able to reach his goal of walking with a cane by improving strength and stamina through gait training exercises. With work, he stretched his initial 10 foot limit to over 150 feet without assistance. He was also able to decrease his supplemental oxygen requirement and was even able to climb 12 stairs without assistance.

Speech-language pathologists used strategies to re-train John how to eat safely by adapting to his dysphagia and strengthening his ability to swallow. For cognitive therapy, iPad applications were used to improve his memory and attention.

By discharge day, John had made great strides in his recovery and his independence. He went from requiring two people to help him get out of bed, get dressed and even use the restroom — to now being able to do all those things on his own.

John isn’t done yet, though. He’s set new goals for himself to keep increasing his endurance for longer walking distances but most of all, he is looking forward going out to dinner with family and friends again.