Hand Therapy

Viscous dog attack scars one woman’s arm but not her spirit

 “I have no idea what caused him to turn on me.  I was screaming and hitting him to get off but he wouldn't let go,” says Joan Cox.

The family’s 7-year-old American Bulldog was normally a friendly, great dog; the ideal “man’s best friend.”  But on August 31, 2011, something set Buddy off and he started attacking the other family dog.  Joan put him in the laundry room to calm down.  Hours later when she went back to check on him, he continued the attack on her.

“I kept saying ‘oh my God’ in the ambulance as the technicians were talking to the hospital about amputation of my right hand and left foot.  A half hour earlier, I was just going about my day.”

 Joan ended up in the hospital for two weeks, spending time in the ICU, and having multiple surgeries to save her arm and foot.  An anesthesiologist said she had never seen anything like it.

“I was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center where we focused on strengthening my left hand and arm.  I couldn’t use my right, dominant hand. I eventually graduated to a walker with an arm attachment.”

Joan was released from rehab on Dec. 12.  She planned to look into additional rehab after the holidays, but stopped at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan's Novi Center on her way home.

“They immediately put me into therapy.  My hand therapist said I was a great challenge and was I up for it?  My answer was, ‘absolutely!’  Therapy became my job – my ‘homework’ at times exceeding three hours per day – every day.”

Five months later, Joan’s recovery is remarkable.  She can walk without assistance, and she can sew, and write with little difference in her penmanship.

“I will forever be thankful for my great orthopedic surgeon and the wonderful therapists at RIM. You can bet I’m glad I made that stop on the way home.”

To schedule a physician or hand therapy appointment, call (248) 305-7575