80-year-old man beats rehabilitation odds - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

80-year-old man beats rehabilitation odds

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ATLANTA -

After suffering a neck or spinal injury, rehabilitation can be a long, hard road to recovery.  A local man, who had the odds stacked against him, says staff at North Fulton Hospital didn't give up on him.

When Stuart Ross had an accident at his home, he was 79-years-old. It didn't look like he would ever recover, but that was before he met his physical therapists.

In his bow tie and suspenders, Ross, now 80, looks good. People call him Tooie, and he was born with a speech disorder called aphasia. His sister, Gwen, says it doesn't affect his personality.

"He's always happy. He never complains. He loves people, particularly pretty nurses," said Gwendolyn Ross.

He's seen a lot of nurses over the past year after a fall at home.

"I always try to stay behind him and catch him by the belt. Well, I was shutting a light off and he went around the corner and poof, down he went," said Gwendolyn.

Ross broke his neck in the fall, a C-2 fracture. Doctors had to insert a breathing tube, but because of the injury and his age, rehab was almost out of the question.

"This is a man that they were considering sending to what's called a LTAC, or long-term acute care facility, because it didn't appear that he would come off the ventilator," said Dr. Alan Harben of North Fulton Hospital.

But two North Fulton Hospital physical therapists wouldn't give up on him.

"You know, you could just see in Tooie that he had fight in him. And just talking with his sister and knowing where he'd come from and he had really fought all his life. We just knew he had this toughness in him. And we really wanted to give him the best chance he could have," said physical therapist Teresa Mcare.

It's taken some time, but Ross is now walking better and farther than he did before his fall. His sister says he owes it all to the staff at North Fulton Hospital, who looked at Ross and still saw hope.

"I'm getting emotional, but he really, he would have died," said Gwendolyn. "There still are fantastic people out there that care, that are willing to work with a person and take the time to understand them."

Ross can now walk twice the distance he could before his fall. He just celebrated his 80th birthday, and some of his physical therapists were there to celebrate with him.

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