Man Credits Rehabilitation Staff in his Recovery

Man Credits Rehabilitation Staff in his Recovery

By Sonya Green-Haché

It was a rainy day in May. “I was on my way to Oromocto where I was responsible for building a new hotel. I suddenly lost control of my car, hydroplaned and flipped over. I remember my friend and colleague Steven Jepsen, who was traveling with me, holding my head so I would not drown in the water that was lying in the ditch. I could not feel my legs.” These are the last memories Wayne MacCallum had before beginning his journey on the road to recovery.

MacCallum, a successful Miramichi businessman, broke the third and fourth vertebrae in his neck. He was given a ten percent chance to live. “I was first sent to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital and then sent to the Saint John Regional Hospital where I was placed on a ventilator and feeding tube,” says MacCallum. He was paralyzed from the neck down and suffering from pneumonia. His spinal cord injury was an “incomplete” injury therefore allowing the opportunity for some movement to return. He says the thoughts of his wife and family pulled him through that time.

He was then sent to the Miramichi Regional Hospital. “I recall a special bed being brought in to help rotate me so I wouldn’t get bed sores. I was still on a feeding tube and paralyzed at that time.” He stayed at the Miramichi Regional Hospital for 18 days before being transferred to the Stan Cassidy Centre in Fredericton which is the designated provincial centre of rehabilitation expertise. The centre provides highly specialized tertiary rehabilitation in-patient services, limited day-patient services and outreach clinics to adults and children beyond what is generally available in each region. He remained there for five months.

Wayne MacCallum demonstrates how he can walk on his own.
“I returned home on December 15, 2005 with little functioning,” says MacCallum. On January 14, 2006, MacCallum was admitted back to the Miramichi Regional Hospital with a bladder infection.

“During that time, I was visited by Jeff Savage, occupational therapist and Cheryl Bell, physiotherapist.” He says they completed a patient assessment and recommended he be admitted to the 1 East restorative rehabilitation unit for care.

The 1 East restorative care rehabilitation unit is designed to provide extended rehabilitation services, as well as restorative and support service to patients who require long-term hospitalization. The aim of restorative care is to improve functional ability and reduce treatment so the patient can be discharged home. Extended rehabilitation services is the treatment of chronic, long-term disabled or elderly patients who require continued medical management and nursing care aimed at maximizing the patient’s functional capability.

“They said I had potential. I couldn’t sit up in bed by myself nor had any functioning on my right side. I was doubtful they knew what they were talking about.”

Mere months later, MacCallum’s rehabilitation recovery is none short of a miracle. With still no feeling in his lower body, he now has the functioning of his left arm and both legs allowing him to walk with a cane and crutches and is working on moving his right arm.    “I thought I would never walk again. I was not able to sit up or scratch my face. My plan now is to walk out of here.”

He gives credit for his motivation to the rehabilitation staff of the Miramichi Regional Hospital, especially occupational therapy and physiotherapy services. His rehabilitation team on 1 East consists of Kirsten Scott, physiotherapist, Beth Sanford, physiotherapy aid and Jeff Savage, occupational therapist. “They never gave up on me.  They kept encouraging me and telling me that I could do it. They believed in me and now I am learning to walk all over again.” He says he also could not have done it without the support of his wife, family and friends.

Wayne MacCallum with his physiotherapist Kirsten Scott and occupational therapist Jeff Savage.

“Wayne is a real inspiration to anyone who meets him,” says Kirsten Scott, physiotherapist. “He is so positive and motivated making him very easy to work with.” She says that MacCallum is also an inspiration to other patients on 1 East. “When other patients see how far he has come, they are inspired to try to reach their full potential. It is a pleasure to work with him.”

MacCallum admits that he wasn’t always the easiest patient for them to work with. “In the beginning I was doubtful that any of this therapy would work but was willing to try.” He says they introduced him to the “can’t can.”

“Every time I said ‘I can’t’ I had to put 25 cents into the can. It got to the point where I couldn’t afford to put anymore money in there so I decided to try harder,” he says laughing.

MacCallum now goes home on the weekends. “My home has been renovated to meet my new needs.”  He says his self-esteem has been boosted and he is motivated to work harder. “I have gained so much from this experience,” says MacCallum. “I never in a million years thought I would be in this position.” He says he is so thankful for his family and has a much greater appreciation for the little things in life. “I now appreciate things like shaving and brushing my teeth. We take our health for granted and it isn’t until you lose it that you understand how important it is.”

“The care at this hospital and in this nursing unit is unreal. I cannot say enough about the staff here. The rehabilitation and nursing staff are excellent,” says MacCallum. “They motivated me to motivate myself.”

MacCallum continues to receive occupational and physiotherapy on a daily basis on 1 East. “I’m a fighter, not a quitter and I will walk out of here,” says MacCallum.

Knowing Mr. MacCallum’s determination, I have no doubt that he will succeed.

Sonya Green-Haché is communications coordinator for the Miramichi Regional Health Authority. For more information about this story contact (506) 623-3003 or visit the website at