It took almost 10 months, but Philip Girolami finally relearned how to walk after a bad fall left him paralyzed and bedridden.
The 65-year-old Nevada City man slipped and fell in his backyard in August 2016. He remained there overnight, with two bones protruding out of the back of his neck, before his landlord found him in the morning. He was still outside and unable to move.
Girolami underwent two extensive surgeries at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. After his surgeries, Girolami was in bad shape.
“I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t stand. I had no muscles because I laid there so long,” he said.
When he was able to return to Nevada County, Girolami moved to Wolf Creek Care Center in Grass Valley, a skilled nursing facility with state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment, including virtual reality simulators that help patients increase mobility and an outdoor rehab center for residents like Girolami who are learning to use their legs again.
During his six-month stay at Wolf Creek, Girolami was diligent about completing his physical therapy sessions and working together with the center’s doctors so that he could eventually live on his own again. On Thursday, Girolami had his last session with Wolf Creek’s rehabilitation director, April Lovelace, before he packed up to move into his own house.
“I’m better. I’m way better,” he said Thursday, just before he left.
Curtis Green, the center’s executive director, said it was inspiring to watch Girolami recover.
Green became director just over a year ago, and said he has focused on helping transform the facility. Besides updating some of the center’s rehabilitation equipment, Green hired extra medical staff to ensure that all 59 Wolf Creek residents meet with a doctor on a daily basis.
About half of the patients at Wolf Creek are long-term residents, while the other half are there for shorter stays, mostly focusing on rehabilitation and physical therapy.
“We do our best to make this place feel like home for our residents while they’re here,” Green said.