Audrey’s story: Sharing her heart story

Success stories

When Audrey Julian went in for heart surgery on Jan. 12, she assumed the procedure would come with some down time, but she wasn’t prepared for what would follow.

Her mitral valve replacement was successful, but days after returning home, she found that the surgery had left her weak and off balance; she fell not once, but three times.

Julian returned to the hospital. It was then that her doctor recommended she go to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Ocala not only to recover from the injuries caused by the multiple falls, but also to recover from heart surgery.

“I didn’t realize all the consequences of having heart surgery,” Julian recalled. It affected all of her body functions, she added, including her ability to perform everyday tasks and walking.

Recovering from heart surgery

When Julian left the acute care hospital, she still needed assistance to regain her mobility and build back her strength.

She arrived at Encompass Health Ocala unable to walk or transition from her bed to wheelchair without maximum assistance. She also had difficulty performing basic activities of daily living.

Her rehabilitation goal was simple—she wanted to be strong enough to walk on her own and return home. Her care team—made up of therapists, nurses, physicians, dietitians and a case manager—designed a plan to help her meet that goal.

Building a therapy plan

Julian received a combination of physical and occupational therapies to help her rebuild her strength and relearn some of those everyday tasks such as dressing and bathing that were difficult as she recovered from heart surgery.

Her therapists worked with her on balance, strength, coordination and endurance. They started simple, helping Julian stand on her own and move from her bed to her chair, while following her cardiac precautions.

“I learned to do things in a different way,” Julian said.

Meeting her goals

After about two weeks at Encompass Health Ocala, Julian made significant gains in her recovery from heart surgery. She discharged from the rehabilitation hospital on Feb. 8, able to walk supervised with a rolling walker and perform basic self-care tasks.

“She worked hard, and has made huge gains,” said Courtney Strickland, her occupational therapist. “She is a joy to work with, and she will get back to doing the things she loved to do at home soon.”

Prior to heart surgery, Julian was active, living independently at home with her husband. She participated in water aerobics and loved playing mahjong with friends. As she continues to recover and grow stronger at home, she’s looking forward to participating in those activities again.

“I made great strides while I was here,” Julian said of Encompass Health Ocala. “This is exactly what I needed. I am very glad I came here and would recommend it to anyone who needs therapy.”