James Colenso quote

Strawberry, Arizona, resident James Colenso had several major health setbacks this past summer, but thanks to rehabilitation at Payson Care Center in Payson, Arizona, he was able to be back home independently in time for Christmas.


It started when Colenso contracted pneumonia. A heart attack followed, then respiratory failure and a triple bypass surgery.


When Colenso came to Payson Care Center for therapy on Sept. 29, 2017, he was very weak and couldn’t take care of himself. He needed complete assistance to stand up, and he was on a feeding tube because he was unable to swallow.


“All I could do was lie in bed,” Colenso said. “I could really do nothing for myself.”


Physical, occupational and speech therapists all worked with Colenso five days a week to help him recover, including on weekends.


Physical therapy focused on core strengthening exercises and used the Omnicycle exercise machine for lower-body strength and endurance. As Colenso improved, they were able to help him practice walking in the parallel bars and do balance activities.


Occupational therapy centered on helping Colenso take care of himself again with all the tasks he would need to be able to do at home. Therapists helped him with functional bed mobility, sitting balance training and other functional skills.


Speech therapy’s mission was to help Colenso swallow again. They used airway protection exercises to guard against choking, as well as swallow strategies. As he improved his swallow, they tried having him swallow different textures of foods so he could safely ease into eating and drinking. The restorative dining program also helped him achieve his swallowing goals.


Colenso was able to return home on Dec. 8. He could walk freely, eat and drink normally and take care of himself.


“Although James was initially very weak, his goal was to go home,” said Claudia Martinez, occupational therapist assistant. “He achieved this by working through his fear and pushing himself every day. We made small goals every week, and he was able to accomplish them.”


“They made me independent again,” said Colenso. “I couldn’t have done it without therapy. They pushed when I didn’t think I could do it. The staff has been marvelous.”