“The exercises gave me strength, increased morale and helped me recover quickly.”

James Mwaura was very weak when he arrived at Life Care Center of Federal Way, Washington, for rehabilitation on July 26, 2017.


Mwaura had been through a lot. Diagnosed with lung cancer, he had just come out of the hospital from a battle with sepsis (a severe infection), acute respiratory failure and pneumonia.


He could only walk 20-30 feet with a walker when he arrived and was at a moderate risk of falling. He couldn’t manage stairs and needed assistance for all of his activities of daily living – including bathing, dressing, grooming and hygiene. In addition, his diagnoses left him with moderate dysphagia, difficulty swallowing. He was unable to eat solid foods, and he also had some difficulty speaking.


“James is a great example of the whole team (nursing, therapy and dietary) working together to help him progress back to his prior level of function,” said Jill Burgher, director of rehab. “He went through chemo and radiation during his stay, which takes a lot of coordination between the disciplines to ensure progress.”


Mwaura did therapy six days a week. Occupational therapists helped him restore his self-care abilities, working with him on his upper-body strength and using adaptive equipment to make independence easier. Physical therapists focused on helping him regain lower-body strength, balance and endurance. They used several modern tools to achieve these goals, including the NuStep® exercise machine, the Biodex® balance board and the Nintendo Wii® gaming system. PTs also used traditional therapy, including gait training with a wheeled walker and cane.


Speech therapists addressed Mwaura’s swallowing and speech skills, using oral motor exercises to help him resume a normal voice and diet.


“My stay here has been very successful, and therapy has been helpful,” said Mwaura. “The exercises gave me strength, increased morale and helped me recover quickly. The staff was very welcoming, and the nurses were very helpful to get medications and schedule appointments and transportation to my many appointments.”


Mwuara returned home independent on Sept. 4.