Carol's Story

Carol Roseboro uses a supportive device to relearn to walk after amputation with her therapist by her side.

Cleveland native Carol Roseboro, 72, is no stranger to hard work. A full-time cook for 25 years, she spent her free time pursuing a nursing degree. Upon graduating, she worked for many years as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Cleveland Clinic’s pediatric epilepsy department. After losing her husband in 2009 and retiring from nursing in 2016, Carol was left wondering how she would occupy herself when she wasn’t spending time with family, playing board games or singing – her favorite pastimes.

Carol recalled a TV commercial for home care company Visiting Angels and knew God had a plan for her. She reached out to them and was hired the next day. Ten years into a fulfilling job, Carol fell and needed help to stand. Soon after, she retired permanently.

Carol’s falls, however, continued and she entered a skilled nursing facility to improve her strength. While there, a raw spot appeared on her foot, but Carol passed it off as rubbing from her shoe. When the swelling got worse, Carol’s daughter took her to the emergency room.

Ultrasounds surfaced blood clots in both of Carol’s legs as well as gout, an inflammatory arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joints. Vascular surgeons diagnosed Carol with peripheral arterial disease, a narrowing or blockage of the vessels carrying blood from the heart to the legs. When antibiotic treatments didn’t improve blood flow and Carol’s gout worsened, doctors informed her the next step was amputation of both legs. Carol had her left leg amputated in April, followed by her right leg in June. While devastating, Carol admits, “It was the best thing because it helped me to not have that pain anymore.”

After both amputations, Carol was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation Hospital, Avon, where her physician-led team of nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists focused on healing her wounds and improving her strength and endurance so that she would be ready to receive her prostheses.

Physical therapists worked with Carol to stretch and strengthen her core and residual limbs. She did therapeutic exercises while laying on her stomach and side. Occupational therapists focused on improving Carol’s upper body strength so she could propel her wheelchair and transfer from laying to sitting and standing.

Carol’s also participated in occupational therapy sessions in the activities of daily living (ADL) suite, which mirrored a home setting. There, therapists taught her to safely complete her personal care tasks such as showering and dressing.

After Carol’s second amputation and rehabilitation stay, she spent time in a nursing home until her residual limbs had healed sufficiently. After a few months, Carol was able to move into a wheelchair-accessible apartment, which significantly improved her quality of life.

Within four months, Carol had received her bilateral foreshortened prosthetics – affectionately known as “stubbies” – which are specially designed for bilateral leg amputees to provide a lower center of gravity for better balance and stability. Once she had her prosthetics, Carol returned to Avon for the third time as a participant in Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation Hospital’s Amp Champ program. Designed to ensure patients are comfortable with their prosthetics, the Amp Champ program provides training and education so that patients can enjoy maximum independence and safety, both at home and in the community.

Carol’s goals upon admission were to “learn how to stand and walk around with my stubbies so I can give ‘my girls’ (residual limbs) a rest from sitting on them all the time. I just want to do as much as I can.” When she arrived at Avon for her third stay, she was mobile in her wheelchair and could independently handle personal care tasks, but had never put on or stood in her stubbies.

Physical therapists initially focused Carol’s sessions on learning to walk in a body weight supported harness. The harness helped Carol feel secure while practicing shifting her weight from side-to-side while remaining balanced. Carol practiced standing in front of a mirror, helping her adjust her posture to better balance and support herself on her stubbies. She also built her lower body strength and residual limb strength, which improved her stability, balance and posture. In addition, therapists consulted a prosthetist – a health care provider who makes and fits artificial limbs – who adjusted the fit of Carol’s stubbies boosting her ability to walk more effectively, safely and comfortably.

Occupational therapists guided Carol through donning and removing her stubbies and educated her on how to use adaptive equipment to perform her personal care tasks more easily. One piece of equipment was a slide board, which allowed Carol to transfer more easily into her wheelchair.

Occupational therapy sessions also focused on strengthening her core to improve balance and posture. Therapists led Carol in reaching tasks to improve her upper body and trunk strength so she could more independently complete her daily life activities such as dressing, bathing and using the bathroom. Additionally, Carol received massages to help release muscular tightness in her shoulders and hips caused by increased use.

When Carol wasn’t putting her effort into physical and occupational therapy, she engaged in her other interests, making Christmas ornaments, painting and participating in game nights and a peer support group for amputees. She also enjoyed baking cookies for hospital staff in the activities of daily living suite, which offers a full kitchen where patients can practice their new skills learned in therapy.

Throughout her journey, Carol credits her family, particularly her daughter, for their support and encouragement. Carol’s daughter attended care partner and family training sessions to learn how best to support her mother upon returning home. “They helped me through it all. Sometimes my daughter would come and just sit in groups with me, and I liked that,” said Carol. She also said that is her relationship with the Most High Yah that has kept her going on her journey.

While learning to don her stubbies and walk independently will be an ongoing process, Carol made great progress with her time in the Amp Champ program. At discharge, she was able to walk 30 feet using a body weight supported walking frame and walker. She is looking forward to building on her progress with outpatient therapy with the goal of using her stubbies daily to get around.

“From day one, every day has felt like a milestone,” Carol said, reflecting on her months-long recovery. “My first milestone was the initial amputation on the left side. After that leg was gone, I didn’t have any more pain and felt so much better.” Carol believes that her three stays at Cleveland Clinic Rehabilitation Hospital – Avon were a game-changer in getting her to where she is today. “Everything has been awesome. The physical and occupational therapists have been so great. They taught me everything, and explained it all in a way I can understand. That, right there, is what is most important.”

Every patient has a story to tell.

Read more of our patient success stories.