SAN ANTONIO (April 22, 2014) – Personnel at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center discharged their first patient to use their Activities of Daily Living skills room designed to prepare recovering wounded warriors for independent living, March 27.
Ask any injured service member who is a patient at the USAISR Burn Center what they want to achieve while there and chances are that they’ll say “get back to living a normal life.” While some injuries require more rehabilitation than others, the staff at the Burn Center Rehabilitation Clinic provides injured Soldiers with tailored therapy to help them realize their goals.
The Activities of Daily Living skills room is a mock-up of a one bedroom apartment. An addition to the rehab center, the room lets patients experience living independently before being discharged from the Burn Center.
“It’s a way for patients who have been here for months to transition back into a routine without leaving the hospital,” said USAISR Burn Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist Emily Welsh. “They get to spend the night and do things for themselves like what they’ll have to do when they are discharged.”
1st Sgt. Matthew Deller, a member of the 232nd Medical Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, first used the room. Prior to spending the night, staff took Deller to the post commissary to shop for items to cook for supper that evening.
“The purpose of the trip to the commissary was to acclimate the patient back into the community,” said Maj. Erik J. Johnson, chief of Burn Rehab. “It gets them to interact with people and to see how they react to their injuries.”
Deller said that it felt good to be out shopping at the commissary.
“I needed to see how it was going to be and how much my body can tolerate,” he said.
The oldest boy out of 10 children, Deller admitted he had always been independent. He said that he was looking forward to cooking his first meal in the Activities of Daily Living skills room, something he had not been able to do in months.
“It was a good experience for him,” said Welsh. “One of the biggest fears that some wounded warriors have is learning how to get back into a routine. Going to the commissary and spending the night in the [Activities of Daily Living skills room] eases that tension.”
“He is a special Soldier,” Welsh added. “He has had a remarkable recovery and is always pushing himself to get back to where he was before.”
Deller recently attended a graduation ceremony at the battalion where he is charged with training and graduating top-notch medics. According to Welsh, Deller unexpectedly went onstage and delivered a 15-minute speech to the students.
“It was inspiring and motivating. That’s just the type of Soldier that he is,” said Welsh.
Deller was discharged from the Burn Center after spending 109 days being treated to a burn that covers 77 percent of his body. He was burned at home when a cracked gas line ignited while starting a fire in his fireplace. He will spend at least another year at the Burn Center rehab gym working on getting his “normal” life back.
Of his recovery Welsh said, “I know that he will. That’s how he is. He’s always looking at what’s next. He’s remarkable.”