This innovative daily assistance medical device, Rise & Rotate, was created out of necessity and passion. We found ourselves in a near impossible situation with my father-in-law, Mr. John Richard. He had suffered a heart attack and a stroke over the course of a year. Being in his early 90’s at the time, doctors told us that he would likely never walk again even with a walker. He began rehab while in the hospital. He was willing to try, in the beginning. However, after a few days he began to refuse or “not feel like it.” After witnessing the transition from bed to wheelchair in order to go to physical therapy, we understood the problem. He was in severe pain and did suffer slight injuries (skin tears and bruising) from the transfers. The issue was, we didn’t know how to change it.
There was no fault of the medical facility or the staff. It was simply that they didn’t have equipment needed to make this transferring easier on patient and staff. For a few days, nurses would try to help Mr. John stand with his walker so he could position himself towards the wheelchair. However, as is common with stroke victims, his feet didn’t respond to brain signals being sent and he couldn’t move his feet. I remember that he was very frightened being in that situation because when he stood the walker would move. Even with a nurse or one of us bracing it, it would move slightly and make him afraid he was going to fall. So that didn’t work. The patient not being able to move his body by way of rotating his feet left no alternative. After the patient was in a seated position they would use slider boards (common practice) placed under him and then try to lift him and slide his body to the side of the bed. Meanwhile he was screaming in pain. Of course this was heart wrenching to witness, but we knew it was so important that he get to therapy so that he could regain some strength and possibly use of his legs before going home. This process took 2-5 facility employees each time. Papaw was not a large, obese man. He was considered within normal stature range.
Family members were increasingly concerned about how family members were going to take care of all his needs when he did come home. After all, when you are dealing with loved ones you have the mental stress of knowing you are hurting them as well as the physical strain and risk of injury to the caregivers themselves. Troy has a large family. He is the youngest of six children. They all lived within a few miles of their Dad’s house and were VERY involved in the day to day tasks of caregiving for their parents. They reluctantly voted to move him to a long term nursing facility due to the concerns that the family couldn’t possibly take care of all his needs in his home. After all, it was taking 2-5 skilled nurses to transfer him from bed to wheelchair. The decision was soon reversed and he was taken to his home.
In the meantime, we had been researching the market for a device, any device that would ameliorate the situation. We just knew there had to be something we didn’t know about and had to find it. But it didn’t exist. Papaw still had his upper body strength and a clear mind. He simply couldn’t make his feet work and he was becoming increasingly hopeless. Troy had pulled away from the hospital scene for a bit because he and his brother-in-laws were working on creating a solution for his dad.
For all practical purposes Papaw was bedridden. There was a hospital bed in the living room; he was in adult diapers and being given sponge bathes in bed. Without the ability to use his legs any sense of independence was diminishing. Developing ideas couldn’t happen quickly enough. Three days later Troy brought in a rough, working, new mechanism. We all knew that Papaw was a bit leery of this at first but as usual he was willing to try. He had grown very weary of lying in bed and was suffering from bed sores. He desperately wanted to be in his recliner. We had to use a Hoyt lift to pick him up out of bed and place him in a wheelchair or recliner. The pain this caused was hardly worth it to him. So when we got him in his chair with the mechanism in front of him, he was interested. He was shown how it worked and how stable it was, as this was a concern to him. We began using the device as a form of exercise. He would pull himself to a standing position and sit back down on his own. This kept his muscle mass from depleting any further. That was the beginning of Papaw’s renewed independence. Suddenly, he was independent of the Hoyt lift. He was independent of adult diapers and baths in bed. He could stand and be rotated around to position to get in a wheelchair on his own! He could use a bedside toilet, he could be moved to the shower without pain and he could get up and sit and visit with family and friends with dignity.
At that point the need for 3 caregivers to move him was reduced to one. What an incredible relieve for the family. Although all loved him so dearly, the tension and exhaustion of multiple caregivers had begun to take its toll. One had incurred a back strain from trying to lift and move him, many had missed time with their families and lost time at their jobs. This simple homemade device had changed the “world” as we knew it.
Over the next month Papaw began using the device on a daily basis as his own physical therapy. He would pull up to standing position and transfer his weight from one foot to the other. He said he was working his muscles. Approximately 6 weeks later, he used his walker instead of the wheelchair to walk down the hall to the bathroom. The sparkle was back in his eye and he was ready to get back in his wood shop. Contrary to the doctors’ predictions, he DID walk again for 8 months before his death at the age of 93.
When this all began, none of us had any idea what the road would look like but passion, determination and a bit of ingenuity creates new possibilities to Rise & Rotate.
Mr. John Richard, World War II veteran died in December 2015, and knew that we had filed a patent on this device. He was willing to serve as our “model” for the videos with great humor - at a fee of $20.00 which he never received because he really loved us "owing" him.