Posted on November 10, 2020

After car crash, quick access to rehabilitation improved Kim’s recovery

For Kim Laskus, “life was great, life was wonderful, I had no complaints.” Then the 60-year-old Grand Rapids woman was involved in a car crash “and everything changed.”

Kim was driving to work on Feb. 19 when the crash occurred. She sustained serious injuries, including a broken neck, hip and femur.

Laskus was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, where she had emergency surgery. Doctors fused the bones in her neck to protect her injured spinal cord and inserted a rod into her leg. Kim was placed on a ventilator to help her breath. During the next eight days, Kim became stabilized and was ready to transfer to the Intensive Medical Rehabilitation Program at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

“We usually don’t receive spinal cord patients as quickly as we did Kim,” said Scott Thomas, director of Respiratory Services. “But it’s so important to get patients into vigorous rehabilitation as soon as possibleto help them have a better outcome.”

The Intensive Medical Rehabilitation Program offers Ventilator and Pulmonary Rehabilitation for patients who need mechanical ventilation to breathe following a severe injury or have other medically complex needs. A board-certified pulmonologist and a board-certified rehabilitation physician lead a multidisciplinary team that helps patients regain physical and emotional strength, communication skills and endurance.

Kim Laskus in Respiratory TherapyRespiratory therapists helped Kim wean off the ventilator five days after she arrived and her tracheostomy removed six days later. This enabled her to begin even more intensive rehabilitation with her physical and occupational therapists, along with speech-language pathologists.

“I called it my therapy job,” Kim said. “I went to therapy from eight to three and worked so hard, but I couldn’t wait to get back to it.”

Slowly, Kim gained function as her spinal cord healed. She worked on standing and then walking and regaining strength in her arms. In late April, Laskus graduated from inpatient rehabilitation to continue her recovery with outpatient therapy.

Fast forward to October, when Kim completed her final outpatient therapy session and visited the inpatient staff to offer her thanks.

“I recovered fast,” said Kim, who’s also participating in driver rehabilitation. “I’m seven months into this, and if you were to just look at me, you wouldn’t think anything is wrong.”

Watch the video to learn more about Kim and her recovery at Mary Free Bed: