Joseph's Story*

Joseph Jarreau standing after therapy.

Joseph Jarreau, 54, raises cattle and resides in New Roads, LA with his wife, Tammy. They also have a 24-year old son. Joseph was getting cattle ready to ship when he began having severe back pain. He was brought to Ochsner Hospital Emergency Room in Baton Rouge where it was determined his kidneys were failing. He was immediately placed on life support in the ICU. After 12 days, he stabilized and transported to Ochsner Main Campus where it was determined Joseph had abscesses and infection on his spine. Surgeons cleaned out the infection and installed spinal cage equipment to stabilize his vertebrae. He was initially released to his home but after some time, Joseph’s health declined again so he was readmitted to Ochsner Main Campus where another surgery was performed to clean out additional infection. This was followed by a third surgery a bit later to put new hardware in his spine for further strength and support.

While at Ochsner Main campus recovering from his surgery, inpatient rehabilitation was recommended by Joseph’s physicians. After researching, Joseph and Tammy determined Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital would be the best choice for his recovery.

When Joseph started his journey at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, he was unable to perform any basic self-care tasks such as dressing himself or toileting, and he was unable to walk or get out of bed on his own. Joseph’s physical therapist used therapy bands to exercise his legs, the stepper machine to increase endurance and leg strength and the parallel bars to work on balance. Once Joseph was able to stand in the parallel bars, he was placed in an overhead support sling system that allowed him to walk without fear of falling. This activity gave Joseph the strength and confidence to transition to a regular rolling walker.

In occupational therapy, Joseph worked on learning new ways to approach basic self-care using a reacher and sock aid to assist with dressing. His occupational therapy team also worked on strengthening his arms using weight bars, therapy bands and the upper extremity arm bike, and Joseph progressed to not needing to use the adaptive equipment for his activities of daily living.

When asked about the role of his family in recovery, Joseph said that Tammy and their son were both a huge support. He and Tammy were so appreciative of their son for keeping the cattle farm running while also working his own full-time job. One of Joseph’s main goals for his time in rehabilitation was to recover so that he could get back to running his business and relieve his son of that responsibility.

Joseph said he knew just a few days into his stay at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital that he was going to get better, and that he was impressed by the level of care. “They got me where I needed to be in less time than I anticipated. They helped me with anything I needed,” said Joseph.

Asked if he learned anything new about himself throughout his recovery, Joseph shared: “I learned determination and how to be a survivor.”

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*Patient success stories from across our hospital network.