Surgery and rehab team step up after sledding mishap leads to major hip fracture
Two years ago, Steve Woodward’s first sentence after hip surgery wasn’t filled with words of pain, but rather ones of humor.
“I remember waking up and asking, ‘Is my hip still there?’” he says.
Today you wouldn’t necessarily guess that the sailing instructor and avid hiker had what many health care professionals called the “worst hip fracture they had ever seen.”
Woodward, director of clinical services at UI Health Care–Iowa River landing, credits his incredible recovery to the superb care he received from UI Orthopedics and Rehabilitation and the University of Iowa Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital, a venture with Encompass Health.
Woodward quickly found himself in a local emergency room in Cedar Rapids. Given the conversations and reactions of the doctors and nurses caring for him, he believed he needed to be seen by the orthopedic team with UI Health Care.
Enter orthopedic surgeon Michael Willey, MD, who was a bit surprised that Woodward’s injury—classified as an acetabular fracture—occurred because of a sledding accident.
“Usually when a person has an acetabular fracture, it’s because they wreck a car or a motorcycle or fall off a roof. It had to be a pretty high energy sledding accident to cause that bad of a fracture,” Willey says.
Woodward remembers the confidence Willey showed as he planned to fix Woodward’s hip by surgical repair with two titanium plates. Woodward recalls the moment he knew that Wiley’s goal aligned with his.
“He told me, ‘Our goal is getting you walking again,” Woodward says.
The recovery: Enter the UI Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital
After his surgery and a short stint of physical therapy in the hospital, Woodward was referred to the UI Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital in Coralville.
In the rehab hospital, Woodward faced two weeks of intensive inpatient treatment, including physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). Therapists taught him how to move his leg in ways that wouldn’t cause further injury while he healed. This helped him when he got home, and his wife had to assist him around the house.
“The rehab hospital harnesses your own motivation, or it gives you the structure to have your own,” Woodward says. “It’s not easy. I knew that I had to be ready, motivated, and have a positive attitude.”
As someone who witnesses the care UI Health Care is known for, Woodward complied because he trusted his care team.
“He was a very motivated person to heal up from an injury like that, and that made a big impact on his recovery,” Willey says.
Woodward remains ever grateful for his care team and the expertise of the rehab hospital.
“The rehab hospital was like an accelerator for my recovery,” he says. “I can’t imagine how challenging it would have been if I had just gone home. They prepared me so that coming home wasn’t so daunting.”
But the process was still challenging. Paulson says Woodward is a great example of the kind of recovery that can occur from determination and collaboration. However, both she and Woodward want to be clear about the journey.
“I think it is important that people know recovery is not a linear process. After Steve’s accident, he had months and months of therapy and he was not always progressing in a linear fashion,” Paulson says. “Therapy is a team process and requires collaboration between the patient and provider. Steve and I were able to develop rapport and trust which I think was imperative for his recovery.”