Wilma Knowlton with James Cochran, physical therapist

On Oct. 3, 2016, Wilma Knowlton tripped on a throw rug in her house and fell hard on the floor, hitting a cabinet on the way down.


The accident resulted in a spinal fracture. Although Knowlton did not need surgery, she did require rehabilitation, and she came to Life Care Center of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Oct. 7, 2016.


When Knowlton arrived, she was totally dependent on others for walking, getting out of bed and bathing, and she needed extensive assistance to stand, take care of her grooming, feed herself and get dressed. She even had some trouble with sitting balance.


For eight weeks, Knowlton wore a halo brace to stabilize her spine for proper healing, and unfortunately, the equipment caused her nausea. Nurses and certified nursing assistants helped her with the queasiness, using electrical stimulation.


Knowlton participated in physical and occupational therapies five days a week, building strength, endurance, balance and coordination with tools like the Biodex Balance System SD, a balance ball and the Omnicycle, a bicycle-like machine that “senses” varying levels of patient participation and provides powered assistance when needed.


“They like me in therapy,” said Knowlton. “They are as nice as they can be. Even the cooks and aides are wonderful and friendly. I needed a lot of help at first, but there was always someone there to help.”


Knowlton was able to return home on Jan. 11, 2017. She had regained independence in walking, sitting, feeding herself and moving from one surface to another, and she only needed supervision in standing, grooming, bathing and getting dressed.