Five years ago, when Bill C. was 71 years old, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves resulting in severe nerve damage. The exact cause of Guillain-Bare is unknown. After living so much of his life with no health problems, the news of his diagnosis took Bill by surprise.
He was told the first symptoms would be weakness and numbness in the hands and feet with progression towards the torso. As an avid golfer, this made a significant impact to Bill’s way of life. Bill’s symptoms progressed from muscle weakness into paralysis. Over the course of three years, Bill went through traditional hospital-driven rehabilitation to build back muscle movement and strength and was eventually sent home with a power wheelchair. Unable to stand independently, walk, sit up or change positions in bed with ease, he remembered the active lifestyle he had and loved before his diagnosis and was determined to regain mobility and walk again.
In 2012, Bill came to The Goodwill Fitness Center to begin a personal training program. Another member who was a big fan of the therapy and training services offered at the Center referred him.
Bill got right to work. At first, Bill was able to increase his strength and function through weekly training sessions and in 2013, he started pursuing a more comprehensive Physical Therapy program at the Fitness Center.
The results were spectacular. Bill was unable to grasp any objects when he first began training at the Fitness Center, but after some serious dedication, he was able to gain grip function and strength in his upper extremities. This regained strength enabled him to work next on his ability to stand and eventually to sit up in bed independently, a huge feat for Bill!
The accomplishments have not slowed down for Bill. He is now able to drive his car with hand controls. Initially hesitant to do so, Bill lacked both the upper body strength and hand control to drive. As a result of hard work with specialized trainers, Bill is now driving safely and feels a great sense of freedom in being able to once again take himself and his wife on weekly outings.
Today, Bill continues to work on his standing strength and balance while walking with a front wheel walker. His ultimate goal is to become totally independent in his mobility and ultimately walk from machine to machine by himself. Through the Goodwill Fitness Center, Bill is excelling on the pathway to independence.