Another door closes.

I requested a physical therapy consult through my outpatient nurse at McGuire VA Hospital.


What I was looking for was a comprehensive physical therapy regimen to improve my lower body strength so that I may regain more independence.

The consult was set up with Laurel Hackett in the physical rehab department at McGuire.

Immediately I was aware of her reluctance in accepting my objectives as realistic. I received no encouragement or support. She just gave me reasons why my best opportunity for success was immediately after a spinal cord injury; not 24 months later. No one explained that to me at the time of the injury or in the recovery process.

The second visit I actually got into the standing machine. Laurel took measurements and monitored my blood pressure while increasing the vertical positioning. The session was punctuated with interruptions, moving of equipment, and concern for a patient who had taken his power wheelchair on a tour of the hospital.

Laurel had requested that I provide her with a list of the exercise equipment available to me at the nursing home, Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center. On the third trip, I gave her the list.


Laurel began making inquiries as to why I hadn’t approached the therapy department at the nursing home for my physical therapy needs. I explained that there was a communication issue, lack of credibility and void of any enthusiasm or encouragement. She then began to distance herself more. It was clear that she was developing a conversational exit strategy.

Laurel mentioned the fact that perhaps we were “re-inventing the wheel” and that I would be better served talking to a therapist at the nursing home. She persisted to the point that I picked up my list of equipment, and I began to close our conversation.

She made several attempts to regain control of the conversation as I was leaving, but it seemed we were going nowhere.

I left McGuire VA Hospital more disappointed and discouraged as ever and returned to the nursing home.