Tasha's Story

Overcoming complications to regain independence

Tasha Hampton’s struggle with heart issues began at age 32, but they never stopped her from meeting life head-on. A mom of three and grandmother of five, she’d left a job as a special needs facility manager to chart a new course, taking classes as a medical coder and biller.

In 2016, however, Tasha began her most serious medical odyssey to date. She went into congestive heart failure and required two implanted devices to keep it functional.

Tasha needed a heart transplant and got the call she and her family had been waiting for in December 2019 --a donor heart was available.

The procedure was successful, but she had complications. Tasha, 50, spent three weeks in a coma, on a ventilator and feeding tube.

She stabilized, but needed significant therapy and time to heal from the ordeal. Her family chose Select Specialty Hospital – Cincinnati for its experience helping medically complex patients begin a recovery.

Tasha arrived in early March. Her main goals were to be able to travel, play with her grandchildren, walk, become independent and swim again.

A physician-led team of nurses, therapists and dietitians created a plan to help Tasha regain her active life.

When she first met the physical and occupational therapy team, she could only lightly squeeze a therapist’s hand. She couldn’t move her legs, roll over or move unassisted. She also couldn’t attempt to swallow or speak.

Each day, Tasha’s therapy team put her through our mobility program. Slowly, at first, they moved her arms and legs, urging her to push or pull with them. As the days passed, Tasha was able to respond. The movements were small at first, but got bigger over time.

Therapists put her in a special bed that tilted her upright, to prepare her body to stand.

Speech therapy coached her through mouth, jaw and tongue exercises that would restore Tasha’s ability to swallow and speak.

Some days, it was difficult to stay motivated. Tasha knew, however, if she wanted to get home to her family, she had to muscle through. On those days, her nurses and therapists cheered even the smallest victory.

Tasha made huge progress over two months. By May, she was sitting at the bed’s edge, moving into a chair and standing. Her speech came back and she could make her needs known to the care team. It was her “ah-ha” moment because Tasha felt that she was finally coming back to herself. She was also able to start eating again.

Tasha left for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital May 5. She will spend the next few weeks focusing on building strength and stamina before finally heading home.