Melvin Hatcher with Jesse Castillo, occupational therapist assistant, and Sonya Fisk, physical therapist assistant

Melvin Hatcher was in rough shape when he came to The Heritage Center in Morristown, Tennessee, on Nov. 8, 2017.


Hatcher had fallen and broken his right leg and his left wrist. Complicating matters, he was also battling pneumonia and was too weak for surgery for his broken bones. He was barely able to sit on the edge of his bed for five minutes the first week.


As the nursing team assisted Hatcher with his medical needs, he also began therapy so he could start getting stronger. He couldn’t walk and had to have three or four people help him transfer from one surface to another.


Seven days a week, physical and occupational therapists worked with Hatcher to increase his strength, endurance, balance and range of motion, as well as his self-care abilities.


Occupational therapists worked with him on these activities of daily living and taught him how to use adaptive equipment, such as a reacher.


Physical therapists focused on strength exercises with the help of free weights. They used the Omnicycle exercise machine to help Hatcher work his upper and lower body while seated and the OmniVR, a video gaming system specifically developed for rehabilitation exercises that targets functional motions and balance.


As Hatcher recovered, he progressed to practicing walking again on the parallel bars.


“Melvin worked hard each day to reach his short-term and long-term goals, going from a hoyer lift to modified independence with functional transfers,” said Sonya Fisk, physical therapist assistant. “He is now stronger and more independent than his prior level of function.”


Hatcher returned home on Feb. 15, 2018, able to walk 100 feet with a four-wheel walker, get dressed with standby assistance and groom himself with setup assistance.


“I wouldn’t have gotten back home without therapy, and it helped me so much,” said Hatcher. “The staff is nice and did what you asked. Everyone was kind, peppy and helpful.”