Left to right: Emily Salter, occupational therapist assistant; Evaline Echols; and Becca Otis, physical therapist assistant

Evaline Echols, a long-time employee at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, is up and walking again after breaking her right ankle in June 2018.


After surgery and some time in the hospital, Echols came to Life Care Center of Cleveland for physical and occupational therapies.


When Echols arrived, she wasn’t able to put weight on her ankle while it healed, but therapists had plenty to do to help her recover even while she waited for the healing process. They focused on helping her get up and down without putting weight on that ankle, which involved working on her arm strength and leg strength.


Gradually, Echols was cleared to put some weight on her foot, then her full weight, and the therapists adjusted her rehab treatments accordingly, helping her work on walking and standing tasks, such as balance and light housekeeping and cooking skills. Echols was excited when she got to prepare a full meal in the therapy gym’s kitchen – from preparing the ingredients to cooking to putting the leftovers away in the refrigerator.


“My therapists, Becca [Otis, physical therapist assistant] and Emily [Salter, occupational therapist assistant] gave me confidence. I became friends with a lot of the therapists,” said Echols. “I like the camaraderie in this department, the way the therapists communicate with each other. They brought me in and made me feel a part of it.”


In addition to the therapy support, Echols had a lot of support and encouragement from her daughter, Sharon, who visited her every morning. While Echols was at the facility, Sharon also sold her condo and bought her a one-level townhome.


When Echols completed her inpatient rehab program, she moved into the new place with Sharon’s assistance on Aug. 15, 2018. Former students from Lee helped with the move, a gesture that meant a lot to Echols, who decided to officially retire after 61 years of service at the college.


Now, Echols is living on her own in her new home. She is continuing outpatient physical therapy three times a week to strengthen her walking skills so she will no longer need a walker or cane.