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Physical Therapy, a Triple Amputee, and a Success Story

October is Physical Therapists’ Month, and one patient shines a light on the profound impact that these dedicated professionals have on their patients’ lives.

Physical Therapy, a Triple Amputee, and a Success Story

by Reading Hospital – Tower Health

Denise Wilson, a triple amputee, had one goal when she came to Reading Hospital Rehabilitation at Wyomissing, Acute Rehab Unit (ARU) in January – to learn how to walk with her prosthetic legs.

Wilson was in a car accident 13 years ago that resulted in a brain injury and the loss of her left arm and both legs. She had mixed results when visiting other physical rehabilitation hospitals and was discouraged, unsure if the physical therapy team at Reading Hospital would be able to help her.

Today, she is making significant progress and is able to walk short distances with assistance, thanks to her physical therapy “angels” at ARU. “The team learned with me and was very helpful. It was a good experience for all of us,” she said. They treat you like you are family. That’s how it should be anywhere you go. You treat people exactly how you want to be treated, and that’s what they did.”

During Physical Therapist Month in October, Reading Hospital celebrates our physical therapists who assist patients like Wilson in achieving their short-term and long-term rehabilitation goals. Her success demonstrates how valuable and inspiring the work of physical therapists is and why their compassionate care is central to the hospital’s mission.

At Reading Hospital, physical therapists provide services across the continuum of care. The continuum includes the inpatient acute care setting at Reading Hospital, inpatient rehabilitation at RHRW, and seven outpatient therapy sites. Our physical therapy team offers many specialties (pelvic floor, aquatics, NICU, neurological, lymphedema, pediatrics, and vestibular, just to name a few). Physical therapists evaluate and treat patients of all ages and different life stages. They strive to improve movement, reduce pain, and return function. Physical Therapists are often an important part of preventative care, rehabilitation, and treatment for patients with chronic conditions, illness, and injuries.

The Reading Hospital therapy teams’ goal is to return patients to the best quality of life possible. For some, that is recovering from knee surgery, and for others, it’s progressing after a major life event, such as a stroke. Patients appreciate therapists who push them, train them, and cheer them on during recovery. In turn, therapists love encouraging patients and using their expertise to help them regain their quality of life.

Wilson’s team taught her how to walk with her prosthetics, as well as how to function more independently without her limbs. She arrived in a wheelchair and graduated to a walker, which she uses with her daughter’s assistance. When she began therapy, the team helped her to create goal, such as walking 15 feet, and she was able to meet all of her goals before she was discharged.

Wilson is deeply grateful to her physical therapy team. As a way to pay it forward and serve as inspiration for other physical therapy patients, she is now training to be a Peer Visitor in the same unit that helped her so much. “You can end up in a dark place, especially when you first lose your limbs, so I try to give people hope that it is possible. Anything can be done if you put work into it and don’t give up.”

Reading Hospital is the flagship, Magnet Recognized, acute care hospital of Tower Health. Located in West Reading, Reading Hospital is a 697-bed hospital that is home to many top-tier specialty care centers, including Reading HealthPlex, McGlinn Cancer Institute, Miller Regional Heart Center, Emergency Department, Level I Trauma Center, and Beginnings Maternity Center, which houses the region’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With more than 1,000 physicians, specialists, and advanced practice providers across 49 locations, Reading Hospital has been recognized for its quality outcomes and clinical expertise across service lines. It is listed as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for four consecutive years (and moving up to America’s 50 Best Hospitals in 2022) and received a 5-Star Rating from CMS two years in a row. For more information, visit