Left to right: Florante Noble, director of rehab; Robelyn Tawn, occupational therapist; Marina Merino-Soriano; Neil Catudio, physical therapist; and Angela Sandoval, physical therapy student

On Oct. 18, 2017, Marina Merino-Soriano arrived at Life Care Center of Escondido, California, following a surgical procedure to repair a vertebral compression fracture that occurred from a recent fall.


Merino-Soriano had previously experienced a cerebellar stroke in 2010 that had affected her balance and coordination, causing her to have an estimated 15-20 falls within the last month alone. Prior to hospitalization, she lived at home with her daughter and used a rolling walker to get around. She was able to care for herself independently and also enjoyed spending time caring for her grandchildren, cooking and crocheting. As she became progressively unstable, however, she was no longer able to safely do the things she loved or even safely walk in her own home.


Upon evaluation, Merino-Soriano required assistance from staff to perform dressing and transfers and to maintain balance while walking. She was very shaky, especially in the head and neck. She had poor balance and coordination, as well as decreased sensation in her hands and feet.


“My head felt like it was going to fall off,” Merino-Soriano shared. “I felt terrible. I wanted to walk without falling. I was doubting if I would even be able to walk again after the surgery.”


The therapy team was hopeful and determined to get Merino-Soriano safely back on her feet. They implemented treatment strategies to address her deficits in balance and coordination and increase her strength and endurance.


With Merino-Soriano’s hard work and positive attitude as well as the support of her daughter, she began to see improvements. She is now able to walk with a front wheel walker and assistance and get dressed and transfer with standby assistance.


“I feel okay now, although my neck is still wobbly,” said Merino-Soriano. “I’m not too afraid to fall anymore and have more sensation in my hands. I have been able to meet and interact with many people of different cultures, both residents and staff.”


“Marina’s success is a true testament to her determination and tireless effort to reach her goals,” said Florante Noble, director of rehab. “She is excited to be back to crocheting, making a trip to Mexico this holiday season and returning to the activities she loves most.”

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