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Silver Cross Stroke Patient Committed to Collecting Toys for Will County Kids

Joliet, IL (July 25, 2011) After suffering from two small strokes in the last year and undergoing months of extensive therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital, Patricia “Pat” Heeg refuses to let her illness stop her from collecting toys for the children of Will County. For the past three years, Heeg has been President of the Reindeer Toy Run, which is hosted by the American Legion Post #13 in Plainfield, where she organizes a 100-mile motorcycle run. All proceeds for the event go to the children in Will County whose parents can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts.

ricpatientpatheeg 002“To give back to these kids is such a worthwhile cause,” said Lockport resident Heeg. “Every child should have a happy holiday season and I’m not allowing my illness to slow me down from collecting donations for the Reindeer Toy Run. I’m still fully committed to helping the kids.”

Photo Caption: Pictured during a therapy session using the Lite Gait machine are Jaime Holzhauser, Physical Therapist Assistant for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital, and Lockport resident and physical therapy patient Patricia Heeg.

Even though Heeg does therapy three times a week for three hours each day, she still manages to find the energy and motivation to visit area businesses asking them for their support in providing monetary or toy donations for the Reindeer Toy Run.

What is a stroke?
According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.  When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost.  These abilities include speech, movement and memory.  How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.

Thanks to her treatment plan at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital during the past several months, Heeg has gained body strength by using the Lite Gait machine during body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT). “This new therapy equipment has allowed Pat to regain strength in her legs and core,” says Jaime Holzhauser, Physical Therapist Assistant for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital. “The machine helps Pat build strength by using faster speeds and increasing amounts of body weight while walking in a safe environment. This allows her to improve her gait speed and balance.”

Heeg, like many other patients at RIC at Silver Cross, prefer to have therapy sessions on the Lite Gait. “I like it because it’s a combination of a treadmill and parachute.  It’s actually fun to do,” says 70-year-old Heeg.

“I’m so grateful for the welcoming staff at Silver Cross,” said Heeg. “Each therapy session, my husband and I are greeted with smiling faces. They are all very good at their job and have a lot of patience in taking the time to help me.”

Advice for other stroke patients
In order to have a successful recovery, Heeg strongly encourages other stroke patients to begin their speech and physical therapy sessions as soon as possible and do exercises at home. “My motivation to get well was to be with my husband, three children and grandchildren, and be able to honor my commitment to the kids for the Reindeer Toy Run,” said Heeg.

Heeg’s husband Leonard of 51 years is also personally familiar with the therapy program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) at Silver Cross Hospital. “I too have been a patient at RIC at Silver Cross for past injuries and I wouldn’t go anywhere else to seek healthcare. The physicians, nurses and therapists are all fantastic,” said Leonard Heeg. “Since Pat’s strokes they have even taught me how to be a better caregiver by really listening to my wife so I can fully understand what she needs and can help her. This tip has greatly helped Pat and I as we have worked through her recovery.”

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) have teamed up to expand post-acute physical medicine and rehabilitation services in Will County and the southwest Chicagoland communities. The partnership provides world-class rehabilitation care for a range of conditions for patients close to home. Silver Cross is the only healthcare facility in the area with this breadth of services in partnership with RIC. Together, Silver Cross and RIC provide rehabilitation services in inpatient and outpatient care settings at three locations—east and west Joliet and New Lenox. Additionally, the RIC team provides physical therapy services for patients on the hospital’s medical and surgical floors. For more information about RIC at Silver Cross, call (815) 300-7110 or visit www.silvercross.org.

About Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895.  Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for the last seven consecutive years and as one of America’s Most Customer Friendly Hospitals by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 2,900 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 304-bed acute care hospital and eight satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Construction has begun to build a state-of-the-art replacement hospital opening in 2012 in New Lenox. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit www.silvercross.org or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

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