Ethel Zuleger with Carlo Castillo on the NuStep®

Valley West Health Care Center in Eugene, Oregon, recently celebrated the return home of a former hospice patient, Ethel Zuleger.


Uropathy, a neuromuscular dysfunction of the bladder, had taken its toll on Zuleger, and after abdominal surgery, she came to Valley West in need of skilled nursing care.


“Ms. Zuleger was very weak, having stayed in bed all the time being on hospice,” said Dirk Schmidt, occupational therapist and assistant director of rehab.


Zuleger needed extensive assistance with walking, bed mobility, transferring from one surface to another, bathing, dressing and standing, and she was unable to get around in a wheelchair.


“She could not tolerate sitting up initially, so we started by increasing her sitting tolerance slowly and supplemented the process with electrical stimulation for muscle strengthening and home exercises,” Schmidt added.


The therapy team acquired an ultra-light wheelchair, and eventually she started coming to the rehab gym with a restorative aide.


After two and a half months, Zuleger was able to go live with her son and daughter-in-law. She was independent in her transfers, bed mobility, sitting and standing balance, grooming tasks and dressing ability, and she only needed supervision to walk. She needed minimal assistance to bathe.


“The persistence of my therapists helped me most to keep going and get strong enough to go home,” said Zuleger.


On April 14, Zuleger was able to return home with a good quality of life. She continues to visit her friends at Valley West from time to time to play bingo.