First Sgt. Matthew Deller shops at the post commissary to cook his first meal in months at the Burn Center Activiites of Daily Living Skills room--the first burn patient to fully utilize that room. Photo by Steven Galvan
By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
2 APRIL 2014
Ask any injured service member who is a patient at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center what they want to achieve while rehabilitating and chances are that they’ll say “to get back to living a normal life.” While some injuries require more rehabilitation than others, the staff members at the Burn Center Rehabilitation Clinic are there to provide the injured warriors with the best therapy to help them realize their goals.
An addition to the rehab center which recently became available is now being taken full advantage of. The Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills room, a mock-up of a one bedroom apartment, gives patients the opportunity to experience living independently before being discharged from the Burn Center.
“It’s a way for patients who have been here for months to transition back into a routine without leaving the hospital,” said USAISR Burn Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist, Emily Welsh. “They get to spend the night and do things for themselves like what they’ll have to do when they are discharged.”
The first patient to experience full use of the ADL was 1st Sgt. Matthew Deller, a member of the 232nd Medical Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Prior to spending the night in the ADL, Deller was taken to the post commissary to shop for items to cook supper that evening.
“The purpose of the trip to the commissary is to acclimate the patient back into the community,” said Maj. Erik J. Johnson, Chief of Burn Rehab. “It gets them to interact with people and to see how they react to their injuries.”
Deller said that it felt good to be out shopping at the commissary. “I needed to see how it was going to be and how much my body can tolerate,” he said.
The oldest boy of 10, Deller had always been independent. He said that he was looking forward to cooking his first meal in the ADL, something he had not been able to do in months. “It was a good experience for him,” said Welsh. “One of the biggest fears that some wounded warriors have is learning how to get back into a routine. Going to the commissary and spending the night in the ADL eases that tension.”
Welsh also said that she feels good about Deller getting back into a routine. “He is a special soldier,” she said. “He has had a remarkable recovery and is always pushing himself to get back to where he was before.”
Deller recently attended a graduation ceremony at the battalion where he is charged with training and graduating top-notch medics. “Out of nowhere he goes up to the stage and delivers a speech to the students for 15 minutes,” said Welsh. “It was inspiring and motivating. That’s just the type of soldier that he is.”
Deller was discharged from the Burn Center March 27 after spending 109 days being treated to a burn that covers 77 percent of his body. He was burned at home when a cracked gas line ignited while starting a fire in his fireplace. He will spend at least another year at the Burn Center rehab gym working on getting his “normal” life back.
“I know that he will,” said Welsh. “That’s how he is. He’s always looking at what’s next. He’s remarkable.”