COVID-19 had left 48-year-old Navy veteran, Seth Sinutko, unable to walk, take care of himself, speak clearly or remember things from day to day.
Seth was admitted to the hospital with seizures, lack of movement and strength and needing a feeding tube for nourishment.
After he stabilized three weeks later, he was transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway to begin his rehabilitation journey. After three weeks in inpatient rehabilitation, Seth Sinutko was strong enough to eat, care for himself and stand with a walker. But he wanted to continue improving and eventually return to work. For that he would need additional rehabilitation and, with the help of his sister, chose to continue at BSWIR - Lakeway’s Day Neuro Program. It is a comprehensive outpatient program that provides focused rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke, a brain injury or other neurological disorders.
Seth expressed his goals to the care team upon admission. He wanted to speak clearly, read at his pre-COVID level, regain more strength and endurance and the feeling and control of his left hand. The Day Neuro team met Seth head-on with a robust therapy regimen.
The physical therapist ran Seth through exercises, such as heel taps planks and bridges, to strengthen his muscles and increase flexibility. When he was strong enough to walk, therapists built an obstacle course of cones that Seth would traverse for increased coordination and endurance. Balancing drills followed and further increased Seth’s endurance – making him steadier on his feet, a necessary step toward walking unassisted.
Seth’s occupational therapist used electrical stimulation – low-level electrical impulses on his hand muscles. Electric stim helped strengthen those muscles and allowed Seth to begin practical exercises to improve his fine motor skills. Those exercises included cooking, brushing his teeth and getting dressed.
The speech therapist engaged Seth in working memory exercises where he had to listen to stories read out loud and retell the story to the therapist. “I hated it,” he said. “But it was very helpful in regaining my memory skills.”
Seth worked hard while at Day Neuro, but equally important were the exercises he did at home, both mental and physical. “It can be hard to do the work when you are not physically present on the weekends, but it pays off in the long run,” he said. The proof of that came on the day Seth, without the assistance of a device or his therapist, stood on his own and began to walk. That was the moment when Seth knew he had turned a corner in his recovery.
With his time at the Day Neuro Program winding down, Seth looks forward to resuming life as it was before COVID-19. Now that he can walk, he plans to return to work while continuing therapy at home. Reflecting on his time, he mentioned, “I would not be where I am now, and as quickly, without this program. It was a positive experience. A safe, clean, friendly and professional environment.”