Cassie, a speech therapist from Allied Services, was a healthy 27-year-old. That all changed shortly after her birthday in September. Late September, Cassie suffered typical flu like symptoms, which became so severe she made several trips to the emergency room.
Suddenly on October 5, Cassie’s symptoms quickly intensified. Around 2 a.m., her parents rushed her to the hospital after her legs gave out on her while trying to stand. Within hours, she first lost the ability to move, then the ability to communicate, and by that evening while still in the ICU in Scranton, became unresponsive. A rapidly moving disease had struck her immune system. Doctors were baffled and they had more questions than answers. Time seemed to be running out. Hours later, Cassie’s family doctor alerted her parents and now fiancee, Matt, there was only a small window of time that she could be life flighted due to her deteriorating state. Cassie was intubated and life-flighted to Geisinger Danville, where her lifeless body went through a series of devastating events. After two weeks of being unresponsive, kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube, doctors diagnosed her rare condition as Acute Disseminated Encepholomyelitis (ADEM). Miraculously, she awoke in the ICU on day 20, unable to speak or move. She shortly began communicating by answering yes and no questions by blinking her eyes.
She was moved out of the ICU into another facility within Geisinger, where she stayed until Halloween. Cassie began to regain her speech, then soon began to slowly feel and move parts of her body, starting from top to bottom.
On Halloween, she was taken to Allied Services Heinz Rehabilitation Hospital in Wilkes Barre. Now Cassie, the speech therapist from Alllied Services who was so used to helping miracles happen, began intensive inpatient occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Thanks to the dedicated nurses and therapists at Allied Services Heinz Rehab Hospital, she went from being unable to move to making significant gains. Her occupational therapist, Wendy, challenged and motivated her in unique and creative ways including blindfold walking, ladder climbing, and playing Wii. Sarah, her physical therapist, taught her to do transfers, stand, take her first steps assisted by the Zero-g machine, and eventually walk with a walker. This equipment was purchased with funds raised through Bronze charity involvement in the 2011 ING New York City marathon.
On Sunday, December 23, 2012, ONLY 79 days after she had been admitted into the hospital, Cassie was discharged. Matt brought her home and had “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” set up in a lavish light display in her backyard. While gripping her walker and Matt on one knee, Cassie of course said “Yes.”
Soon after being discharged from Heinz Rehab Hospital, Cassie began outpatient occupational and physical therapy at Allied Services, surrounded by her work family. Beginning outpatient therapy, Cassie was using her walker, had overall body weakness, and decreased endurance. But, she has made, and continues to make significant improvements each week thanks to her amazing team of therapists at Allied Services. They have been able to take the skills she learned while at Heinz Rehab, and fine tune them by combining their talents with unique equipment such as the Neurocom Equitest (purchased with funds raised from 2012 ING New York City marathon Bronze charity involvement).
She graduated from the walker, to a four-point cane, to a single point cane, and sometimes now without a cane at all.
Cassie, Matt, and their families are eternally grateful for everything Allied Services Integrated Health System staff has done and continues to do for Cassie during her recovery. Her therapists remain optimistic that Cassie will make a full recovery and be another example that miracles in rehab do happen. Cassie looks forward to being able to walk down the aisle and dance at her and Matt’s wedding in October of 2014.