Ed Schmidt is proud of his Native American heritage. As a young boy growing up with 11 siblings on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, Ed quickly learned the role of community as well as the importance of self-motivation.
Ed graduated from high school in 1973 and earned an associate degree from Sinte Gleska University in his hometown of Mission, S.D. For 25 years, Ed worked in maintenance at his alma mater. He’d adopted the smoking habit in high school, but had his last cigarette in 2000. Over the years, Ed’s lungs were at risk of developing progressive lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Complications from COPD sent Ed to the intensive care unit of a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital in June 2010. Toward the end of his five-month hospitalization, Ed’s legs were numb and his hands spasmed uncontrollably. Doctors determined Ed had contracted polyradiculoneuropathy, an inflammatory disorder that affects the peripheral nerves. Medication helped ease the erratic motion in Ed’s hands, but the pain in his hands and legs was constant. Doctors told Ed he would probably never walk again. “I told them one day I’d be back to prove them wrong,” said Ed.
Ed was on oxygen, heavily sedated and totally dependent when he admitted to Madonna’s Acute Rehab unit in October. “I wanted to be independent again – to walk and breathe normally,” said Ed. His Madonna team mapped out an intensive program of physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapy to help Ed reach his goals.
When he arrived at Madonna, Ed had difficulty remembering verbal instructions. Suzanne Seberg, speech language pathologist, helped Ed develop strategies for remembering his exercise programs, therapists’ names and important events. “I helped Ed utilize his strengths with visual memory to compensate for his difficulties with auditory memory,” said Suzanne.
The nursing and respiratory therapy teams used an A-pap machine to keep Ed’s airways open and he was able to wean off the supplemental oxygen in December. “I felt much stronger breathing on my own,” said Ed.
In physical therapy, Ed started with mat work and progressed to sessions on the Moveo XP and Lokomat® as his legs strengthened. By January, Ed was taking steps with a walker. Ed has plans to continue working on his mobility through outpatient therapy near his home.
It is a Native American custom to honor people in your tribe. Ed wants to do that for all the Madonna staff who encouraged him. “They were like my second family,” said Ed. “Everyone here works in harmony and really cares about you as a patient.”