Left to right: Rebecca Otis, physical therapist assistant; Laylah Medlin; Amanda Gosnell, speech therapist; and Emily Smith, occupational therapist assistant

Laylah Medlin’s life got interrupted in July 2018 when she developed bacterial meningitis.


Due to the nature of her illness, local hospitals couldn’t take her and she had to go to Knoxville, Tennessee, for care. She began to recover, but the day before she was scheduled to return to her home in Cleveland, Tennessee, she had a stroke.


“It’s been a journey I never thought I’d go through,” said Medlin, 51.


In all, Medlin had to stay in Knoxville for a month, and she was not able to go straight home. Her next step in care was Life Care Center of Cleveland for skilled nursing and rehabilitation.


When Medlin arrived, she was on a feeding tube and unable to walk.


Life Care’s physical, occupational and speech therapists worked with Medlin to help turn that around to where she would be able to go home again.


Physical therapists worked on the muscles in her legs and helping her regain control of her motions. They practiced standing with her, as well as strength exercises, balance and managing steps.


Occupational therapists addressed Medlin’s activities of daily living, helping her relearn how to get dressed and focusing on her fine motor skills for important movements like grasping utensils and writing. Even using adult coloring pages helped her hone these skills.


Speech therapists did their part in Medlin’s return to normalcy with addressing her speaking and swallowing functions. They used VitalStim® electrical stimulation to help her relearn how to swallow, along with other swallowing exercises and strategies. She was able to, bit by bit, swallow different textures of food safely, starting with pureed food and honey-thick liquids and progressing to a mechanical-soft diet with nectar-thick liquids. Finally, on Sept. 25, she was cleared to eat and drink normal textures again.


"She has a very good attitude,” said Emily Salter, occupational therapist assistant. “Her motivation to do better and go home is very strong.”          


“I look forward to therapy because I know I’m going to do something that’s going to get me further along,” said Medlin.


After a home visit to make sure she was ready, Medlin returned home on Oct. 4.