Left to right: Shasta McAnally, physical therapist assistant; Jim Pigott; and Kelli Rose, occupational therapist

Jim Pigott was completely dependent on others when he came to The Heritage Center in Morristown, Tennessee, for rehabilitation.


Pigott had just come out of an extended hospital stay for acute congestive heart failure and respiratory failure. He was on a ventilator for five days and had to be lifted in and out of bed with a mechanical lift. He couldn’t even sit up on his own in a wheelchair when he arrived on March 6, 2018.


Physical and occupational therapy turned Pigott’s inabilities to abilities.


“We began Jim’s therapy by increasing overall strength, building standing ability and tolerance and then incorporating gait training,” said Shasta McAnally, physical therapist assistant. “First, we used the parallel bars, then a four-wheel walker, then the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill® and now finally a straight cane without assistance.”


Designed by NASA, the AlterG looks like a regular treadmill with a bubble-like enclosure from the waist down, which the user zips up to create the reduced-gravity environment. Up to 80 percent of a user’s weight can be relieved while using the treadmill, reducing impact and injury when walking.


While physical therapy focused on Pigott’s mobility and lower-body strength, occupational therapy was involved with helping him regain the ability to take care of himself again, with daily activities such as getting dressed, grooming, showering and feeding himself. Occupational therapists trained him in these functional activities and used the OmniVR video gaming system to help him work on real-life motions.


“Therapy helped me function again, being able to do activities of daily living and walk again,” said Pigott. “Therapy gave me happiness, and I’m proud I can do things by myself and not have to rely on others. It is wonderful to be around people who are so positive and helpful.”


In less than two months, Pigott was returning home on May 2. He was mostly independent and only required supervision for standing and walking.