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After Near-Death Accident, Woman Back Walking after Silver Cross Rehab

Lockport resident Shay Strickland's life was turned upside down when she lost control of her car in April.

Photo/Silver Cross Hospital: Staff from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen pose with trauma accident patient and Lockport resident Shay Strickland.
Photo/Silver Cross Hospital: Staff from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen pose with trauma accident patient and Lockport resident Shay Strickland.

By Tracy Simons, Silver Cross Hospital

On April 4, Shay Strickland’s life was dramatically turned upside down. While driving alone three blocks from her home, the 38-year-old lost control of her car. After her car hit a telephone pole, the vehicle rolled and her body went through the back windshield. 

Fortunately, she didn’t hit another car or person. But she was not wearing her seat belt, and suffered multiple critical injuries including bleeding on the brain, dislocated knee caps, torn knee ligaments, a cut-off artery in her right leg, three broken ribs, a collapsed lung and countless contusions. 

After multiple surgeries, her ability to ever walk again was bleak. However, as a result of 5 months of physical therapy in The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s (RIC) inpatient unit at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox and at its outpatient facility in Homer Glen, the Lockport resident not only can stand and walk without a limp now, she can even drive a car. 

A sponsored article by Silver Cross Hospital.

Due to the severity of the injuries Strickland suffered during this traumatic accident, she was transferred from Silver Cross to Loyola University Medical Center where she underwent trauma surgery the night of the accident. 

“I am so appreciative to the staff at both Loyola and Silver Cross for their ability to work so well together,” Strickland said. “Both of these excellent teams played a significant part of my miraculous recovery. I am also so grateful to God, my parents Larry and Shelia Strickland, my two daughters, brothers, dear friends and the wonderful team of expert therapists from The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital and in Homer Glen that cared for me the past several months.

“My lead physical therapist, Rich Bryniarski, was an awesome communicator. Rich always asked me how I was feeling and would describe what was happening to my body. He explained the benefits from a particular exercise and gave me wonderful encouragement to forge ahead,” Strickland said

Due to Strickland’s serious, complex injuries, it was important for her treatment plan to maintain a safe progression of therapy, yet continue to stress her physically, in order to strengthen and improve her function. 

“With the specialized therapy and equipment we offer here at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital in Homer Glen, we were able to arrive at a functional level that allowed her to increase her activity level at home, in the community and return to work,” said Rich Bryniarski, physical therapist at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital at 143rd and Bell Road in Homer Glen. “Shay has worked extremely hard to regain her function.”

Seamless Care

When Bryniarski was off for a few days, physical therapist Debrah Pilgrim administered Strickland’s therapy sessions. “I also had a great experience with Debrah,” Strickland said. “She was equally supportive and knowledgable.”

“By coming to Silver Cross patients have access to specialized care plans similar to those that are offered at RIC’s downtown Chicago location,” said Valerie Paluszak, Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. “We are fortunate to have such highly trained and experienced physical, occupational and speech therapists working at Silver Cross, who truly make patients’ treatment successful enabling them to thrive, so they can return to their daily routines.”

“Besides advising other therapy patients to pray a lot with confidence, my advice to them is to push through the therapy,” Strickland said. “Some days it is going to be very painful to do the exercises, but if you do the work and take your medications prior to therapy sessions, you will see huge progress in your recovery.”

For information about The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital, go to www.silvercross.org or call 815-300-7110.

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital

Silver Cross Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) have teamed up to expand post-acute physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Will County and the southwest Chicagoland communities. The partnership provides world-class rehabilitation care for a range of conditions for patients close to home. Silver Cross is the only healthcare facility in the area with this breadth of services in partnership with RIC. Together, Silver Cross and RIC provide rehabilitation services in inpatient and outpatient care settings at four locations—at the main Hospital at I-35 and Route 6 and the Silver Cross Professional Buildings in Homer Glen, New Lenox and West Joliet. Additionally, the RIC team provides physical therapy services for patients on the hospital’s medical and surgical floors.

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