Fire raged through Wilbert Jones’ home. The 61-year-old, known as JR, was trapped.
Eventually, rescue crews entered and discovered a badly burned JR in cardiac arrest. Loaded into an ambulance, he’d gone 15 minutes without oxygen by the time it reached Detroit Receiving Hospital’s emergency room doors.
Rushed to surgery, JR was placed on a ventilator. He spent time in the burn ward for serious facial and extremity injuries.
A cascade of complications followed including pneumonia, bronchitis and a chest-wall infection. A tracheostomy for airway support and feeding tube were placed. Then, JR’s kidneys failed, requiring dialysis.
Against long odds, JR survived.
Three and a half months later, he stabilized and doctors chose Select Specialty Hospital – Pontiac for ventilator liberation, ongoing wound care, nutritional support and early rehabilitation.
Unable to follow commands or speak, JR could not breathe, think, eat or move independently. His body was weak, with still-healing second- and third-degree burns.
Initially, JR’s heart rate would increase with the slightest exertion so therapists performed basic, in-bed range of movement activities to maintain joint function and improve blood flow.
Several days after arrival, JR returned to the acute care hospital for surgical removal of a blood clot in his smoke-ravaged lungs. Enduring further complications, JR battled a gastrointestinal bleed and another bout of pneumonia.
JR rallied a second time and returned to Select Specialty Hospital. His therapy team picked up where it left off, with improved results.
Respiratory therapists, under the direction of a pulmonologist, began ventilator liberation trials. After a month of reducing ventilator settings, breathing exercises and chest-muscle strengthening, JR no longer required use of the ventilator. His tracheostomy tube was connected to oxygen for support.
Physical and occupational therapists also stepped in with a broader mobility program, helping JR sit and balance to strengthen core muscles. Over time, he could stand and transfer to a chair with assistance.
As the mental fog lifted, JR began to communicate. Speech therapists successfully tested and placed a valve allowing more normal speech. His diet was also advanced so he could work his way back to regular eating.
After an incredible 192 days since the fire, JR was ready for the next phase of his recovery. He departed for a rehabilitation facility to continue healing and building strength.