With a little push from Care@Midstream

Former Care@Midstream patient, Marnus van Graan poses with his former speech therapist, Hannalie Kroon.

Rehabilitation often requires the therapist to push the patient beyond what they think they are able to do. For Marnus van Graan, the professional push from the staff at Care@Midstream, a division of ClaytonCare Group, made all the difference in his recovery.

In 2016, Van Graan was in a car accident and he hit his head when the vehicle rolled. He arrived at the hospital complaining about a severe headache, for which medical staff wanted to give him painkillers.

“I got frustrated and angry, as they kept asking me to sit down. Finally I decided to get up to go to the bathroom. I fainted. That’s when they finally did a brain scan, four hours after the accident. Maybe I should have gone to the bathroom earlier,” Van Graan jokes.

The doctors found that 27 percent of his brain was filled with blood. He underwent an emergency operation of nearly four hours. After he was sedated for a few days, doctors realised that Van Graan had gone into a coma. His condition deteriorated fast and he was put on life support. Doctors predicted that, if he survived the next 48 hours, he would remain on life support for the rest of his life. And in the extremely unlikely event that he did wake up, they warned that he would mostly likely be paralysed on his left side.

Incredibly, Van Graan woke up after nearly six weeks in a coma, with a very different outcome to the doctor’s estimations. However, it was also only the start of the hard work.

He was admitted to Care@Midstream, where he spent a gruelling six weeks rehabilitating with the help of occupational therapist Heloise Conradie, speech therapist Hannelie Kroon and physiotherapist Christine Munnik.

Van Graan had to relearn most functions, including walking, talking and concentrating. For those six weeks, his life was rehabilitation, sleep, repeat – a crucial part of the process, according to Conradie, and something that sets Care@Midstream apart.

“Care@Midstream has a dedicated and experienced neuro-rehabilitation team as well as a ward with skilled nurses that understands the value of a therapeutic environment,” she says. “The ward routine is essential to recovery and it encourages participation and independence. The extremely supportive management team and nursing staff are all passionate about rehabilitation. I think that team effort to get a patient better makes Care@Midstream unique!”

Marnus van Graan (far left) and family with Care@Midstream staff members (from right) Werner Engelbrecht, admission case manager, physiotherapist Annamarie Botha and speech therapist Hannelie Kroon.

The facility takes a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation through various treatment modalities. The premises also includes a therapy gym, beautiful gardens, a restaurant and lounge areas.

Although Van Graan was getting the best care, he says, this experience challenged him to work hard. “We had a love-hate relationship. She [Conradie] got furious at me and vice versa, but we also grew to love each other,” Van Graan says. The frustration is understandable – he was in incredible pain. During his time in hospital, he developed myositis ossificans, a condidion that involves the body sends immature bone cells to the site of an injury instead of blood or muscle cells.

“A bone that looked like the inside of a Crunchie grew in and around my hip muscles. Every time I go beyond my range, the bone would turn and tear the muscle,” he recalls. However, with a little push from Conradie, his range improved dramatically. After leaving Care@Midstream, Van Graan still had some work to do, although the start he had made at the centre was invaluable.

“He made significant progress during his weeks of rehabilitation,” Conradie says. “The team uses various outcome measures to monitor progress. We could see his ongoing recovery when he visited our facility after he was discharged. A supportive family and ongoing treatment on discharge play an important role in long term functional gains.”

Today Van Graan can perform about 80 percent of his daily activity normally. He is also able to drive again and hasn’t lost his appetite for life. After the incident, he went shark cage diving – one of the scariest experiences he’s ever had. He is currently studying theology and has plans to go into ministry. He believes his church and the prayers of friends and family were key to his recovery.

While he didn’t enjoy his time at the rehabilitation centre because of the intensity of the rehabilitation programme, Van Graan is very grateful to the staff and recommends Care@Midstream. “They are very professional. It is a hygienic and clean facility with good therapists,” he says.

He has the following advice for other individuals struggling with rehabilitation: “On a spiritual level, keep believing. On a personal and physical level, just work hard. There is a reward for the effort you put in.”

The ClaytonCare Group offers early rehabilitation opportunities for medically complex, ventilated and post-surgery recovery patients. It has two centres: Care@Midstream in Olifantsfontein, Centurion, and Clayton House in Bellevue East, Johannesburg. To learn about the services offered by the group, visit the website at ClaytonCare Group.

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