‘First step in recovery’: Intermountain Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation helps patients heal after life-altering injuries

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — For patients recovering from life-altering neurological injuries, hard work often yields miraculous results. 

Intermountain Healthcare’s Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation team supports patients with intensive therapy as they strive to regain mobility and independence. 

“Our goal is to get people back to functioning,” said Roxanne Butterfield, nurse manager of the Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation Unit at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital. The unit is also part of the Intermountain Southern Utah Neurosciences Institute, a comprehensive program for patients who need brain and/or spine care.

Established in 2003, the program is the only one of its kind between Provo and Las Vegas. The center provides a homelike environment for patients with neurological injuries or illnesses transitioning from hospital care to home. Patients benefit from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team including physical, occupational and speech/swallowing therapy. 

The comprehensive rehabilitation program is designed for patients with functional deficits resulting from a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, major trauma, amputation and other disabling conditions as well as those diagnosed with degenerative neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy. Patients undergo three hours of therapy five days a week with access to 24/7 nursing care. 

Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation center, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News
“Rehab is a critical element in facilitating maximum recovery of most patients who have neurological injuries or illness,” said Dr. Bryndon Hatch, medical director of Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation. “Rehab is a long process. I wish we had a medication to speed it up, but we don’t. Time and therapy is what we have.”

Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation helps patients pursue a fulfilling life despite physical limitations. The program provides hope and healing for patients like Matt Blanchard, who has faced an arduous recovery from life-altering injuries not just once but twice. 

At the time of his first accident, Blanchard was a strong and active 30-year-old. He worked as a self-employed electrician with a wife and three kids at home. But everything changed one snowy day in January 2006. While driving on Interstate 15, his truck went off the road and rolled three times. The accident broke his back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. 

Blanchard was determined to get back on his feet and challenged his doctor’s prognosis of spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Through intensive rehabilitation, he ultimately regained the ability to walk short distances with the aid of canes. 

“At that time, all I wanted to do was walk,” he said. “And we went to work. We went to work for five years, every single day doing therapy.” 

After his recovery, Blanchard joined St. George Regional Hospital as a physical therapy aide for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries. Butterfield said he possesses a gift for connecting with patients and sharing his optimism. 

Matt Blanchard with a member of the Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation staff, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

“We can empathize with a patient, but we don’t really know for sure what they’re going through,” she said. “He can relate to patients on that level because he lives this every day.”

Unfortunately, in February of this year, Blanchard was driving to Nevada when a car traveling the opposite direction crossed the median and hit him head-on. He was extricated from his vehicle and flown to the hospital with serious injuries, including multiple broken bones in his legs and feet. The impact also shattered his L4 vertebrae, leaving him without the use of his lower body once more. 

While it remains unknown what his future holds after such extensive injuries, Blanchard is undergoing intensive therapy and rehabilitation to regain the mobility he fought so valiantly to restore 15 years ago. 

“I know that I’m in control of my attitude and my effort,” he said. “No matter what happens, we’re all in control of our attitude and our effort.”   

For Blanchard and many others on a similar journey, Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation serves as the starting point of a new life filled with possibilities. He continues to spread his message of hope and positivity with his fellow patients despite the obstacles that now stand in his way. 

“I can tell you with 100% certainty that it’s going to be okay,” he said. “Life’s going to be different, but you’ll still be able to do all the things you did before. You’ll just do them differently.”  

To learn more about Matt Blanchard’s story and Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation, click here.

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T • 


  • Neuro Specialty Rehabilitation at Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital | Address: 1380 E. Medical Center Drive, St. George | Telephone: 435-251-4500Website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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