Pilates-Based Physical Therapy Gives Detroit-Area Stroke Victim New Lease On Life

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Pilates is not just for fitness buffs and celebrities anymore. Mary Iorio of Detroit suffered a stroke at age 38 that left her unable to do everyday tasks, but her Pilates exercise program has her back on track.

Since starting my Pilates program at Heartland, I have greater function in my left arm, I've improved my balance and regained my confidence

In 2004, 38-year-old Mary Iorio of Beverly Hills, Mich., suffered a debilitating stroke on New Year's Eve, leaving her walking with a cane and unable to perform everyday tasks including folding the laundry, walking her dog and playing with her two young children.

This New Year will be completely different for Iorio, and she credits her Pilates-based physical therapy program she attends twice-weekly at Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services.

"Since starting my Pilates program at Heartland, I have greater function in my left arm, I've improved my balance and regained my confidence," said Iorio. "My care at Heartland has really helped me return to a normal life.

"In fact, I hosted Christmas Eve dinner for 12 family members this holiday season, which would not have been possible even a year ago," said Iorio.

Pilates is an exercise program that focuses on strengthening core postural muscles to keep the body balanced. The exercises teach awareness of breath and strengthening deep torso muscles. Pilates programs often use unique pieces of equipment to perform the exercises, including machines Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services uses like the Reformer and the Cadillac.

"For Mary, we've used Pilates as part of her physical therapy regimen to teach her brain how to control the affected side of her body in addition to building core strength," says Allison Nakisher, a physical therapist and Pilates instructor at Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services. "Mary's recovery has been phenomenal. She's very motivated, and as a result, she's become much more functional.

"To my knowledge, Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services clinics are the only local rehabilitation clinics offering Pilates in conjunction with physical therapy," says Naskisher. "Approximately 75 percent of my patients use Pilates and I feel they are getting better more quickly because of the workouts.

"Each week, I watch these patients gain confidence and pride in their abilities while they do their Pilates workouts," says Nakisher.

Stott Pilates is a certified-based discipline of Pilates. Instructors like Nakisher must complete 150 hours of classroom education, 150 hours of supervised teaching and a written exam over a one-year training period.

Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services is a leader in providing unique, rehabilitative therapies in a patient-friendly setting. Heartland Rehabilitation Outpatient Services offers a variety of services at many of its free-standing clinics including aquatic, occupational and traditional physical therapy, speech therapy, massage therapy, Pilates and Pilates-based rehabilitation, and more.

Manor Care, Inc., through its operating group HCR Manor Care, is a leading provider of short-term post-acute and long-term care. The company's nearly 60,000 employees provide high-quality care for patients and residents through a network of more than 500 skilled nursing centers, assisted living facilities, outpatient rehabilitation clinics, and hospice and home health care agencies. Alliances and other ventures supply high-quality pharmaceutical products and management services for professional organizations. The company operates primarily under the respected Heartland, ManorCare Health Services and Arden Courts names. Manor Care is committed to being the preeminent care provider in the industry. Shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HCR.

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