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Physical therapist helps patient regain strength — one step at a time

Physical Therapist Brynne Gardner and her patient Steven Mason

Brynne Gardner has been a physical therapist at Monument Health Lead-Deadwood for just over a year. Originally from Wyoming, she feels right at home here in the Black Hills, and has found a lot of fulfillment working with her patients. “As a physical therapist here, I get to work with both inpatients and outpatients, so you get to help a lot of patients through their entire plan of care,” she said. “You’ll start working with them while they’re in the hospital, and then continue along their plan of care and help them get back to the activities they want to do.” That’s exactly what Brynne did with Steve Mason.

Steve is a 65-year-old retiree, who spent his working years as an electrician and then a miner. In February he was on his way to see his doctor for a routine check up when he slipped on a small patch of ice — a little accident that caused big problems. “I went to the emergency room in Deadwood, and learned I had broken my ankle in three places,” Steve said. “I had to go to Rapid City for two surgeries, then I stayed up in Deadwood. That’s where I eventually met Brynne.”

Brynne started working with Steve to help redevelop strength and tolerance in his ankle. “It was a pretty significant injury, and Steve’s biggest goal was that he wanted to be able to return home, but he had to be able to make it up the stairs leading to his house.”

“I have about 13 steps to get to my house,” Steve explained. “When you live in Lead, you’ve got steps. That was my biggest concern, and Brynne understood and helped me focus on that.”

It wasn’t a quick process, but over many weeks she was able to help Steve gain tolerance in his ankle to be able to make it up the steps. Returning as an outpatient, his goal was still home oriented. “He wanted to get around his house more safely, to be able to go up and down those steps more easily and more quickly,” Brynne said. “So we worked through all of that to improve his stair-climbing ability.”

“Steve always had such a positive attitude, and even on some of the tougher days he stayed positive and was willing to believe in the process, and I know that’s part of what made him successful,” said Brynne. “He always made our day and made us smile with a joke. He loved therapy and we loved treating him, so we had fun.”

From Steve’s perspective, the support he received from Brynne and others at Lead-Deadwood Hospital made a big difference. “I like to have fun, but it got hard being in the hospital for five weeks,” he said. “Brynne and her coworkers had fun with me, teasing me a little to keep things light, and it really helps when you have people that make you feel at home.”

Steve is happy about the progress he’s made, and the fact that he can tackle the steps in front of his house with no problem. “I need to get my leg a little stronger — I still use a cane when I have to walk a long way, but I’m getting there. Brynne really helped me out, and I’m thankful she did.”

October is Physical Therapy Month. Thank you to Brynne and all of the physical therapists at Monument Health who are committed to helping their patients return to the lifestyles and activities they love. To learn more about physical therapy at Monument Health, click here

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