'Team Lowell' gets 77-year-old on his feet and back home


It’s a day Lowell Abele and his daughter weren’t sure would ever come. The 77-year-old rehab patient is returning home.

“It’s going to be emotional because I can stay there. Sleep in my own bed. Make my own food. It’ll hit me later on in days to come,” Lowell says.

After a year of intense therapy and challenging setbacks, Lowell is rolling down the hall at Good Samaritan Society – Maplewood in Minnesota one last time.

“He’s the most motivated patient I’ve ever met," Madelyn Miller, Society certified occupational therapy assistant, says. "Day one he said, 'Oh I’m going to walk home.' And he’s going to."

'Doubts all over the place'

When Lowell first came to the Society, the retired financial data center manager was bedridden after severely injuring his feet on a hot driveway.

“First six months I had doubts all over the place,” Lowell says. “My feet were burned and bandaged."

Just a fraction of his worries.

“He had a broken wrist," Laura Schultz, Society physical therapist, says. "He ended up having to have gallbladder surgery and had some pneumonia and things that weren’t related to the wounds."

It was a slow go at first.

“Took about six months for my feet to heal,” Lowell says. “I knew I wanted to leave. That was my main goal."

A goal he was still working on at a different location before moving to the Society.

“When it comes to therapy, you have to find people you gel with. That to me is a big thing. I was fortunate to find these two,” Lowell says.

These two, Laura and Madelyn, went to work uplifting Lowell’s body and spirit.

“In the beginning, he was very limited,” Laura says. “It’s been a lot of hard work on his end and a lot of dedication to his therapy."

Making goals 'safe and attainable'

Collaborators in therapy, Lowell and his providers started piling up small victories.

“The more we worked at it the better it got. Then I could see the improvements. Then they just kept coming,”

Lowell says. "There’s not words to describe these two. They’re very good, excellent."

“Team Lowell” came up with a personalized care plan to meet his needs and get him back on his feet.

“We take his goals and we make them safe and attainable and work towards that,” Madelyn says.

Now, one final achievement while in the Society’s care at Maplewood:

"I’m going to walk out the door," Lowell says as he approaches the entrance.

With a tremble in his voice, he says, "Thank you, everybody."

Then, with the help of a walker, he strolled to his daughter's waiting vehicle.

“The best part of my job is stories like this. Watching people meet their goals and go home. It’s why we come to work each day,” Laura says. “He was so dedicated, and it is very inspirational to all of us. He gives hope to a lot of people just that they can reach their goals."

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