Rehabilitation Services: Helping a Young Man Gain Strength and Stability

Patient Gregg Bradley


One of the joys of community hospital work is connecting with patients and their families and watching how, together, they are able to get healthier, stronger and, ultimately, happier. 

Gregg Bradley’s parents brought him to Wake Forest Baptist Health Lexington Medical Center hoping our Rehabilitation Services could work with Gregg to improve his stability and hopefully reduce his pain. 

Gregg, a 22-year-old with autism, was diagnosed in 2012 with cervical spinal stenosis, a bone disease in which his spinal canal narrows at the level of the neck. Cervical spinal stenosis is both painful and dangerous; it can make walking and even balance difficult, affecting all kinds of motor skills. Gregg’s mother, Adena Bradley says that when her son’s motor skills continued to deteriorate and he remained in pain after surgery in 2012, she and her husband, Tim, sought help. 

Living in Lexington, they were happy to come to Rehabilitation Services, and have been surprised and pleased with the progress Gregg has made. He’s been a regular on Friday mornings for more than a year. 

"Oh yes, they have strengthened his core muscles. He used to fall or be close to falling. Now he’ll go for a period of time and doesn’t seem to fall sideways or appear to be tipping over," Adena says. "He seems to walk better. But even more, his demeanor has improved and even with the pain, it’s better." 

What the Bradleys appreciate most about Rehabilitation Services is how Gregg is treated by team members such as physical therapist Debbie Dryman, who Adena says, "really listens to Gregg." 

"With autism, you don’t usually make eye contact or even talk. Gregg will talk to her. A lot of times Gregg will find something funny, look at me and say, you tell her." Adena says that’s a sign of affection for Debbie. 

More important, Debbie and the Rehabilitation Services team are making progress to keep Gregg’s muscles strong enough to avoid falls. 

"He tries very hard to please and do what is asked of him," Adena says. "One of the first times he was put on a bicycle that forces him to use his feet and arms together, Gregg went extremely slow on it. Miss Debbie kept saying it was as if this was the first time his upper and lower body had to work in sync. And I do believe that. Gregg felt a new sensation, everything working together." 

"When you have poor motor planning and coordination, things don’t work together. On the bicycle, he was actually able to experience that."  

Debbie calls working with Gregg, "a wonderful challenge. I enjoy working with him. I feel like he has a lot of untapped potential."

"It’s neat to discover ways to bring out that potential. His communication difficulties make it a challenge to access his needs and response to therapy, but you try to look at the whole person, read into his responses and tailor the therapy in a way that will be most beneficial to him."

Gregg is a courageous young man who still faces obstacles. His mother says he will need another surgical procedure in which a rod will be screwed to his spine to stabilize him; the Bradleys hope to hold off on that surgery as long as they can. Having the Rehabilitation Services team working with Gregg every week is one way to stave off that surgery. Adena says her son always looks forward to his Friday mornings here. 

Uplifting stories about our care efforts—and the connections we make with families such as the Bradleys—give us reason to be proud.

Bill James 

June 17, 2015