Left to right: Abby Cracchiolo, speech therapist; Lina Palazzolo, occupational therapist assistant; Ula Emmons; and Shirla Kreilich, physical therapist assistant

After spinal surgery to correct spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the open spaces in the spine), Ula Emmons came to The Westchester House in Chesterfield, Missouri, for rehabilitation.


When Emmons arrived on June 20, 2018, she needed a mechanical lift to get her out of bed. She needed complete assistance to get dressed and stand up, and extensive assistance to simply balance while sitting. Her cognition was also negatively affected.


Five days a week, Emmons participated in physical, occupational and speech therapies.


Speech therapists helped Emmons regain her thinking skills, while occupational therapists focused on retraining her how to take care of herself. Physical therapists worked with her on regaining strength, balance and range of motion. They did a variety of exercises with her, including using the facility’s crosstrainer to work out both her upper and lower body.


“Therapy helped me with my memory, strength and mobility,” said Emmons. “OT helped me with the things I have to do at home. When I first got here, they had to use the Hoyer lift. Now, I can walk with a walker for a few feet with nothing. The nursing staff was super – they made sure I got my medications and helped me shower when I first got to the facility and needed help. Now I can do it all myself!”


“Ula was a hard worker in therapy,” said Abby Cracchiolo, speech therapist. “She came a long way and always had a smile on her face.”


Emmons is now able to walk, get in and out of bed, stand and take care of her grooming tasks with supervision. She is thinking clearly and is independent in dressing, bed mobility and sitting balance.


On Aug. 30, Emmons returned home.