The Sweet Song of Recovery

Video Features Patient Playing Piano after Injury, Family Grateful for Safe, Coordinated Care

September 21, 2020

NEENAH, Wis. – A touching video shows Marilynn Dunlap sitting at a piano, playing a lovely song. While the song itself is beautiful, it’s Marilynn’s story that shines through.

“She is a miracle,” said Michael Dunlap, her husband. “I cannot describe it any other way, her recovery and the fact that she is here today is truly a miracle.”

In April, Marilynn suffered a fall that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her family explained the injury was severe. She spent a month at an area hospital and then three weeks at a skilled nursing facility. In June she was brought to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah for the Intensive Rehabilitation Therapy Program. Intensive rehabilitation therapy is comprehensive, coordinated rehabilitative treatment that is comprised of multiple teams, including physicians, nurses, rehabilitation therapists and many others. Numerous studies have shown these programs significantly reduce recovery times, and adds to the patient’s overall outcome.

“We were so happy to get into the program at ThedaCare,” said Michael. “For weeks while she was in a skilled nursing facility, we could not visit, only communicating with her through a window because of COVID-19 restrictions. It was so difficult not being with her.”

During that time the family was updated by nursing teams and checked in with Marilynn through video calls.

While in the Intensive Rehabilitation Therapy Program at ThedaCare, Marilynn was able to have one visitor with her while taking necessary safety precautions.

“We couldn’t believe we could visit her,” Michael said. “To be able to go in and hold her hand, give her a hug, it meant so much to us.”

Michael said he truly believes in the power of family support that adds to the mental and emotional health of a patient, directly impacting their recovery. He went on to describe the care his wife received from the entire team.

“They are all angels,” he said. “I have such a high regard for everyone who cared for Marilynn. We have a great appreciation for each special person.”

Marilynn was able to go home on June 19.

“Based on the initial prognosis, we were shocked,” Michael said. “At the beginning, we didn’t know what recovery would look like. We were not sure she would ever be well enough to come home, or even walk on her own.”

Marilynn had other plans. Including walking and playing piano again.

Her family was so inspired by her recovery, they created a video detailing the experience. While she plays the piano, photos and video show her rehabilitation milestones. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBQxjSgEcFg

The following message was posted along with the video: “We are so proud of you, mom. We can't wait to see the steps you continue to make.”

For team members, seeing patients after they leave our care and continue their recovery helps them understand the impact they have on families.

“We always enjoy seeing the progress our patients make,” said Penny Block, Director of Nursing at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. “Seeing this video is incredible. It shows the influence of family support, and the determination from the patient to continue improving. This inspires all of us.”

Marilynn said she has been overwhelmed by the compassionate care she has received from the health care professionals since her accident.

Team members at ThedaCare look forward to the continued recovery for Marilynn and wish her well.