Physical Therapy Gets Paul Weis Back to Work After a Fall
Paul Weis is a good guy. That’s why he spent last July 4th on a 12-foot ladder, helping a friend trim trees. Then the ladder kicked out, and Weis tumbled onto his back. “At first I thought I just had the wind knocked out of me,” he says. “Then I realized I couldn’t move.”
Weis, 54, of Orefield, was rushed to Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest. Tests revealed a burst fracture of his L1 vertebrae. He also had a left wrist fracture. “I assumed I would rest a few more days and simply walk out of there,” Weis says. But he soon learned his recovery would take months. He also was fitted for a full back brace.
“I realized I was going to need help with things I used to take for granted – like sitting up in bed,” Weis says. “I wondered, ‘What if I can’t walk again?’”
His fears vanished once he met physical therapy assistant Beth Hernandez. “She said, ‘We’re going to do this thing,’” Weis says. “It was exactly what I needed to hear.” Hernandez says instilling confidence is part of her job. “I help my patients understand their therapy goals, and we reach them together.”
Hernandez taught Weis how to roll on his side to the edge of his bed. Over the next several days, he worked on transferring to a chair, then using a walker. Because he was going to live temporarily in his mother’s ranch home following discharge, Weis also learned how to turn backward and push off the walker to navigate the home’s single step. “It felt awkward, but it worked,” he says.
Weis had four home physical therapy sessions, eventually progressing to walking with a cane. Before beginning more aggressive therapy, he needed to let his back heal further. Still wearing the brace, he returned part time to his business, Commercial Color in Allentown. “To go from that hospital bed to my office in less than a month was nothing short of a miracle,” Weis says.
Today Weis is back working full time. The brace came off for good in October, when he also began outpatient physical therapy through LVHN to regain strength and flexibility. He still thinks of Hernandez often. “Her confidence inspires me to this day,” he says.