Left to right: Lyra Phan, physical therapist; Kevin Kalka, physical therapist assistant; Andrea Towner; Karen Cooper-James and Donna Rosacker, occupational therapists

Andrea Towner was struggling with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which necessitated a hospital stay.


The disease, which causes the immune system to attack the body’s nerves, had left Towner extremely weak. When she arrived at Life Care Center of Bridgeton, Missouri, for rehabilitation on Feb. 5, 2018, she required total assistance with all of her mobility and much of her activities of daily living, such as grooming and getting dressed. She also required extensive assistance to bathe.


Physical and occupational therapists worked with Towner five days a week. In physical therapy, she started working on bed mobility and sitting balance until she was eventually able to stand and work on balance in the parallel bars. She then graduated to walking 50 feet with two people to help her and a front-wheeled walker. Therapists used electrical stimulation on her legs throughout her stay for increased muscle strength. She was also fitted for a foot/ankle orthosis that provided stability during treatment.


In occupational therapy, Towner concentrated on building upper-body strength to help her increase independence in her activities of daily living. OTs also helped her with transfer training, helping both her and her daughter learn how to safely move from one surface to another, such as a bed to a chair or a chair to a wheelchair. They also used electrical stimulation on her arms.


“All the therapists are professional and experts at what they do,” said Towner. “They are very caring. As many times as I wanted to quit, I never did. You doubt yourself a lot in therapy, but they would talk me out of it. They have taught me to trust myself in my situation. I believe that my body is strong and I am in control.”


Towner is now independent in several areas – bed mobility, wheelchair mobility and sitting balance. She requires only supervision for grooming and minimal assistance with walking, transferring from one surface to another and bathing.


On April 6, Towner returned home, where she is receiving assistance from her daughter. She is also currently doing outpatient therapy sessions twice a week at Life Care Center of Bridgeton to continue her progress.