Patricia Heeg uses the Lite Gait machine during a physical therapy session with physical therapist assistant Jaime Holzouser at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital.
After suffering from two small strokes in the last year and undergoing months of extensive therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital, Patricia Heeg refuses to let her illness stop her from collecting toys for the children of Will County. For the past three years, Heeg has been President of the Reindeer Toy Run, which is hosted by the American Legion Post #13 in Plainfield, where she organizes a 100-mile motorcycle run. All proceeds for the event go to the children in Will County whose parents can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts.
“To give back to these kids is such a worthwhile cause,” said Lockport resident Heeg. “Every child should have a happy holiday season and I’m not allowing my illness to slow me down from collecting donations for the Reindeer Toy Run. I’m still fully committed to helping the kids.”
Even though Heeg does therapy three times a week for three hours each day, she still manages to find the energy and motivation to visit area businesses asking them for their support in providing monetary or toy donations for the Reindeer Toy Run.
According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.
Heeg’s husband Leonard of 51 years is also a motivation. “Since Pat’s strokes the therapists have taught me how to be a better caregiver by really listening to my wife so I can fully understand what she needs and can help her. This tip has greatly helped Pat and I as we have worked through her recovery,” shares Leonard Heeg.
Thanks to her treatment plan at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital during the past several months, Heeg has gained body strength by using the Lite Gait machine during body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT). “This new therapy equipment has allowed Pat to regain strength in her legs and core,” says Jaime Holzhauser, Physical Therapist Assistant for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. “The machine helps Pat build strength by using faster speeds and increasing amounts of body weight while walking in a safe environment. This allows her to improve her gait speed and balance.”
Heeg’s husband Leonard of 51 years is also a motivation. “Since Pat’s strokes the therapists have taught me how to be a better caregiver by really listening to my wife so I can fully understand what she needs and can help her. This tip has greatly helped Pat and I as we have worked through her recovery.”
Heeg, like many other patients at RIC at Silver Cross, prefer to have therapy sessions on the Lite Gait. “I like it because it’s a combination of a treadmill and parachute. It’s actually fun to do,” says 70-year-old Heeg.
In order to have a successful recovery, Heeg strongly encourages other stroke patients to begin their speech and physical therapy sessions as soon as possible and do exercises at home. “My motivation to get well was to be with my husband, three children and grandchildren, and be able to honor my commitment to the kids for the Reindeer Toy Run,” said Heeg.
For more information about the services at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital or to schedule an appointment with a physician’s order, contact a Silver Cross location close to you. Find them here.
Learn more about the Reindeer Toy Run and see how you can help, fan them on facebook or visit here.