Joe Simmons with his therapy and nursing team

When retired Bowater Woodlands employee Joe Simmons suffered a series of seizures in late 2017, he found himself in bad shape and unable to take care of himself.


Simmons came to Life Care Center of Athens on Dec. 17 to begin his journey back to health through rehabilitation. When he arrived, required a feeding tube to receive nutrition. He was unable to swallow, walk, bathe himself or wheel himself in a wheelchair, and he needed extensive assistance for balancing, dressing and bathing.


Physical, occupational and speech therapists worked with Simmons to help him regain his independence. Physical therapists focused on strength, balance and mobility, using their skilled techniques to drive positive outcomes. Meanwhile, the occupational therapy team used their skills to focus on helping him relearn self-care and activities of daily living. Speech therapists addressed his swallowing with an exercise program to strengthen his throat muscles.


Along the way, not only did Simmons’ therapists encourage him, but so did his wife, Ellen, who learned the home exercise program along with him so she could assist him at home.


“I finally got the feeding tube out, and now I can eat,” said Simmons. “I got my strength back and can walk 150 feet.”


“Mr. Simmons was so motivated to get better,” said Sara Watson, director of rehab. “He was always ready to do the hard work that it took to get stronger and get home with as little assistance as possible.”


Simmons returned home on Feb. 2, 2017, able to get around and take care of himself with Ellen’s help.