Left to right: Evan Dalton, physical therapist; Ellen Ford, speech therapist; Duane Mullins; Daniel Hixon, occupational therapist; and Laura Carter, PT student

Life Care Center of Ooltewah has been an answer to prayer for me and my family.”


This was the experience of Duane Mullins, who suffered a subdural hematoma (a collection of blood outside the brain) and brain seizures.


“I was on a feeding tube, had a tracheostomy and had no mobility,” Mullins continued. “I had limited consciousness.”


Mullins was not able to do much when he arrived at the skilled nursing and rehab center on Jan. 30, 2019. He couldn’t walk, and he needed total assistance to bathe and get dressed. He needed extensive assistance to get in and out of bed, balance while sitting or standing, transfer from his bed to a chair and take care of his daily grooming. He couldn’t swallow safely and had difficulty talking and understanding language.


With all these problems, it took all three rehab disciplines to restore Mullins to function.


Speech therapy focused on his speech, cognition and swallowing and was able to get him to communicate clearly with his friends and family again. ST also allowed him to be back on a normal diet now.


Occupational therapy worked on Mullins’ activities of daily living, his self-care skills. Through retraining and teaching him compensatory techniques, OTs were able to get him to the point where he only needs stand-by assistance or supervision with his ADLs.


Physical therapists put their efforts into helping Mullins increase his strength, endurance, balance and range of motion, as well as his safety awareness. When he completed therapy, he was able to walk with a front-wheeled walker with someone standing by his side to steady him. He can also get in and out of bed and transfer from one surface to another with supervision.


“Thanks to the superb physical, occupational and speech therapy programs and excellent medical staff, four weeks later, I have had my dignity restored,” said Mullins. “I am mobile, I can eat and I am headed home.”


Mullins went home on March 4. He is continuing his progress in therapy as an outpatient.