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Getting His Confidence Back: Gerald’s Success Story

By, Allison R. Weder

Gerald Krepps is an active 66-year-old. He loves to ride his Harley and travel. But one day, Gerald faced a terrifying health issue and found himself in the hospital. His symptoms indicated a stroke, but doctors were not able to find the blockage. Gerald spent a week in the hospital before a specialist finally found it. Gerald remembers those frightening days. “I was scared the first couple days in the hospital. I said, ‘God don’t let me end like this.’” Once Gerald was out of immediate danger, it became clear, his left side was heavily impacted by the stroke. He began physical therapy in the hospital and then transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center at another hospital for a month. “They got me moving around and I was able to walk with a cane. Then the head therapist did some research and found Phoenix (Physical Therapy in Pottstown, Pennsylvania) and said, ‘this is the outpatient therapy program I want you to continue with.’ It was close to home.”

The process to setup therapy sessions at Phoenix went smoothly for Gerald. “I called Phoenix, and I told them my issues and problems, and I had my first appointment set up before I was even discharged from the hospital. I was discharged on a Saturday morning and started my therapy the next week.” Gerald met Ashley Mace, DPT, LVST on the first day. “Ashley and I had already talked. She knew my whole background and knew what was wrong. She asked me what my goals were, and I said, ‘my goal is to be like I was before. I ride a Harley and I want to ride my Harley again.’” Ashley created a unique rehabilitation plan, just for Gerald. It started with exercises on the stationary bicycle and leg press along with resistance band work. Gerald looks back on those first few weeks of therapy. “I started with getting movement in so Ashley could see what I needed to do to improve. I was getting my baseline.”

Gerald began to see improvement quickly. “I saw a little bit of progress within the first week, week and half. (Ashley) would ask me to do something, and I would say, ‘I don’t think I can do that.’ She said, ‘give it a try.’ I was so surprised, but I could do it! She called me an overachiever.” Ashley saw Gerald’s dedication to get better immediately, and agrees, the “overachiever” label remained appropriate as time went on. Ashley recalls, “The first day I met him I knew he was extremely motivated. When I would tell him to do three sets of ten repetitions of an exercise, he would do three sets of twelve repetitions or three sets of fifteen repetitions. He has always pushed himself with each therapy session and he was always willing to try new things in order to help him reach his goals.”

The time came for Gerald to focus on building strength in the muscles he uses to ride his Harley. “Ashley came up with exercises that helped my balance and movement in my left arm and left leg so I could get back on again.” Gerald began using different machines in the clinic, but also continued his hard work outside the clinic and joined a gym. “The first time I was there, I saw a guy using half a ball and he was standing on it, using kettle bells and lifting them up. I told Ashley about it, and she said, ‘you are going to be able to do that.’ I didn’t believe her, but she pulled out the clinic Bosu ball. At first it was getting my balance for 30 seconds. Then it turned into closing my eyes (and keeping my balance) for 30 seconds. Then, it turned into doing squats. She couldn’t believe I was able to do it. I couldn’t believe it either. Then we tried the kettle bell. We started out with five pounds and went up to fifteen pounds. It worked!” Gerald trusted Ashley, knowing that working those leg muscles would help him hold up his motorcycle. Ashley continued to tailor exercises just for Gerald so he could reach his goals.

Gerald completed sixty sessions with Ashley and Clinic Director, Jenna Senholzi, PT, DPT. “I can’t say enough about them. They are just great. We worked together well. They would suggest something, and I never doubted what they came up with. We had a game plan. It was like working with friends. If it wouldn’t have been for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I will stop back there as soon as I’m on my Harley and to show them that I’m back on. I can’t thank them enough.”Gerald knows some people have doubts about physical therapy, but has this advice, “Ashley and Jenna are trained. They know what muscles need to be worked. They incorporated exercises into my therapy that would help me feel what it was like to ride my motorcycle. It helped me get my confidence back. That’s the biggest thing. If I didn’t have somebody to push me or give me that confidence, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”