A pipe layer by trade, Michael ‘Mick’ Dulik helped work on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals Omaha Campus in its early stages. Six years later, he’s seeing the building from a new perspective as a patient and reaping the benefits of specialized rehabilitation with leading-edge technology.
“I put the gas line in that feeds the building, so all I did was on the exterior,” Mick said. “When I was here, it was just a shell, and they were just starting to work on the inside, framing walls and putting up drywall. Somebody else runs the gas and hooks it all up, so I never got to see the final product.”
That is until an accident brought him back to the hospital he had helped build. After a nine-day stay at Nebraska Medicine, Mick came to Madonna to navigate life “one-sided,” as he called it.
“I broke my pelvis, I can’t put weight on my left leg, and my left arm is banged up too,” Mick said. The therapists had to train me to learn how to go home for at least a few weeks and use only one side of my body.”
It’s an unexpected full-circle moment to be a patient at a hospital he helped build, but Mick says his desire to return to his career motivated him throughout his stay.
Weight-bearing restrictions present their own unique set of challenges, but Madonna’s therapists are well-versed in how to make sure patients still get the repetition and support needed to be successful. Mick says the biggest help for him came in the form of a walker with an arm platform attached. It allowed him to be mobile without requiring the use of his left hand and added extra stability for maximum independence.
With a goal of a speedy return to work and his community, physical therapist Michala Remund, worked with Mick on his balance, endurance and mobility while using the wheelchair and as he progressed to using the walker. Long days at a job site with uneven ground and an obstacle course of construction equipment can be tricky to navigate, so she also showed him tricks to conserve energy and stay safe going up and down stairs, over ramps and through doors.
“Mick was motivated to get back home and start returning to his normal routine, which really helped him progress here,” Michala said. “He also knew what was going to be expected of him at home, so he worked hard to make sure he was independent with everything.”
With help from occupational therapist Bianka Alvarado Milla, Mick practiced independently showering, dressing, navigating in and out of bed, cooking and doing laundry. She also incorporated the Bioness Integrated Therapy System (BITS) touchscreen and Dynavision to improve his balance and coordination. Keeping track of reaction time and adding some friendly competition proved helpful in increasing his speed and accuracy. Fine motor skills are a large part of his job, and navigating them swiftly and precisely is key to success.
“His willingness to try new things and never say no to whatever we suggested helped him get the most out of his time here at Madonna,” Milla said. “He made leaps and bounds in a short amount of time.”
A short amount of time that, to Mick, yielded maximum results.
“From the time that I got from the hospital to here, I’ve learned so much because they have really great therapists here who know what to do and how to help you get better faster,” he said.
In just a few weeks, Mick will be able to start putting weight on his left leg and begin outpatient therapy for his hand. He’s looking forward to once again walking, returning to work, and in his spare time, running around in the backyard with his new puppy.