Joey's Story

Medically Complex

Heart patient has lots of love for RIM

University of Michigan sophomore, Joey Maniaci, couldn’t figure out why he felt so bad during the fall of 2015.  Several doctors treated him for the flu.  Not improving, he went to see his primary care physicianJoey in January, who saw an enlarged heart caused by heart failure. 

“When the doctor told me at 20-years-old I had a virus that was attacking my heart, I couldn’t believe it!  They hospitalized me for nine days to get me stable and released me.  But just six hours after coming home, I ended up back in the hospital, this time on life support, and a trach. Doctors eventually performed surgery to place me on an LVAD, a pump that moves my blood through my body that I carry with me.”

Joey spent 80 days in the hospital. He couldn’t walk and had lost about 75% of his muscle mass. He needed specialized therapy to recover. Joey liked DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM) best because it offered an intense program.

“My goal was to get back to being a 20-year-old. They immediately started occupational and physical therapy. It was tough because I was one of the youngest patients there, but I was close in age to many of my therapists, so we connected and had fun, even though I was exercising. 

By the time Joey left RIM nearly a month later, he could walk short distances with a walker, his strength was returning and speech improving. 

“RIM is absolutely incredible. I’m absolutely grateful for all my therapists and nurses. They gave me physical and emotional support.  I can’t believe the progress I’ve made since my surgery.”

Joey plans to continue with outpatient therapy at RIM and is back at the U of M.