Robert Bretherick's story

amputee patient success story

In July, 65-year-old Robert Bretherick sustained a work-related electrocution injury when the crane he was operating came into contact with power cables. He sustained multiple injuries involving his left upper extremity, torso and both legs.

He was transported to Geisinger Hospital, where they stabilized him. Robert was then transferred to Lehigh Valley Burn Center, where he stayed for three months before being discharged. As a result of his injuries, he required amputation below his right knee and part of his left foot. These surgeries were performed in October.

In February, after healing from his surgeries, Robert was given a referral to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital to begin prosthetic training. Unfortunately, he soon experienced further complications with his right residual limb that required two more surgeries to address an underlying bone infection. After additional healing, he was admitted to Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital in September to resume prosthetic training.

When Robert first arrived, he was unable to walk — which was his ultimate goal. "I wanted to walk with a walker and go as far as I could," said Robert. To help him achieve this goal, he began working with a team of therapists.

Robert’s physical therapists had him start out using parallel bars for support. Once he was stable enough on his own, he progressed to using a walker and practicing on multiple surfaces. “I did a lot of walking, not just inside either,” said Robert. “I walked outside on the concrete, over the grass, over gravel and parking lots, up and down ramps. It all made a difference in where I could go and what I could do once I left the hospital.” Over time he was even able to walk backwards, go over curbs and walk up stairs.

Robert also participated in occupational therapy to help increase independence with his daily living activities while wearing his prosthesis. This enabled him to transition from sitting to standing for self-care tasks. Robert also completed cooking tasks in the kitchen to facilitate standing tolerance. Being able to perform these activities while standing, versus doing them at wheelchair level, helped restore a sense of normalcy that Robert was striving for.

Robert’s family and friends were a huge support system during his long recovery journey. They always encouraged and reminded him of the life that was waiting for him outside of the hospital.

After 12 days, Robert discharged having achieved his short-term goal of walking with a walker. He looked forward to getting back to the life, and continuing to work until he could walk with just a cane.

Robert shared, “I learned that I have what it takes mentally and physically to get through an injury of this magnitude and get to a point where I could start getting my life back.”

After discharge, Robert began outpatient therapy at Select Physical Therapy – the next level in Select Medical’s continuum of care.