BRAINTREE DOCTORS, THERAPISTS HELP BROCKTON MAN STAND ON HIS OWN TWO FEET
BROCKTON, Mass., September, 2010 - In December 2009, Brockton resident Brian Conner went to the doctor with back pain that felt like a muscle pull. Not thinking much about it, he did the normal things one would do for muscle pulls — apply heat, take anti-inflammatories, then call the doctor in a week.
But after a week had passed, the 41-year-old Conner noticed that he had a tingling and numbness in his right arm. Subsequently, he was sent to get an MRI to eliminate certain things. The MRI revealed that there was something not right about his spinal cord. So in January 2010 he immediately had an appointment with the chief neurosurgeon at Beth Israel Hospital, who took some pictures of his own. The neurosurgeon diagnosed him with a tumor between the T1 and T2 vertebrae.
He assured Conner that the tumor wasn't malignant; it was relegated to the one location and had not metastasized. Unfortunately, surgery would be required because the location of the tumor wouldn't allow the surgeon to perform a typical biopsy, so the operation was performed on January 21.
What should have been a simple procedure was anything but. Conner had a sausage-sized tumor which should have been relatively easy to remove. But once the neurosurgeon was inside, he discovered that the tumor had attached itself to some of the nerves. Consequently, after the tumor had been painstakingly removed, Conner found that he had lost all of the strength in his right leg. He had limited movement in the leg, couldn't lift it straight up, and was unable to lift his toes.
After discussing his options with his case manager, Conner elected to go to Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital for recovery. He had already heard a lot of good things about the care at the facility; what's more, the location would make it easy for his family to visit. It was a decision he never regretted.
"The care I got at Braintree was fantastic," Conner said. "From the moment I got there, it seemed that there was a steady stream of doctors coming in and out checking on me."
It wasn't just the doctors who were exceptional; Conner's therapists were equally instrumental in his recovery.
"I worked with Katie and Monique. I can't say enough about them. The provided all sorts of exercises to help me, and they were constantly changing things up to keep it interesting. I actually looked forward to therapy every day."
Conner spent three weeks as an inpatient at the facility, getting intensive rehab five days a week. A major part of his rehab regiment included time on the AutoAmbulator, a specialized device that simulates a person's natural walking gait. Conner usually wore a brace on his leg while he utilized the AutoAmbulator in order to help correct his "toe drag."
After finishing his inpatient rehab on February 15, Conner started going to outpatient therapy twice a week. The results were everything he could have hoped for. He is able to get around quite well; after using a brace and two crutches, he now uses neither. His balance is still a little bit off, and he experiences minor problems from his wrist to his elbow in his right arm. Yet he is very close to normal functioning: he can shower, perform his chores around the house, and has even returned full-time to his job at Boston Financial Corporation. And the best part is that the healing should continue.
"There's no reason why I wouldn't continue to get more function back," he said. "I'm probably 90-95% back and I'm aiming for close to 100%. I was told that I should continue to notice little improvements. That is very encouraging to me."
While Conner's determination played a large part in his recovery, he is quick to give credit where it is due.
"My therapists and doctors at Braintree were terrific. I wouldn't be where I am without them."