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Feature Article Life-Altering Event Inspires Local Couple to Give Back

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Last spring, as the plants in Maxine Rainbolt’s garden began to bud, she found herself resting in bed with a mild cold.

But after several days, Maxine’s cold didn’t get better, and one morning, she woke up unable to get out of bed.

“I couldn’t move my legs,” said Maxine.

Mike, Maxine’s husband, called 911 and she was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. There, physicians ordered tests, including an MRI. That evening, Maxine was diagnosed with an extremely rare ischemic spinal cord injury – bleeding within her spine – and rushed to surgery to stop the bleeding.

Maxine’s surgery was successful, but the damage to her spinal cord left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Maxine, a lifelong educator, spent 10 days recovering at Good Sam and later spent six weeks at an inpatient rehabilitation center in Portland. She continues to adapt to her new lifestyle, including using a wheelchair.

Married to his wife for 47 years, Mike focused on seeing to the tasks that would make his wife’s transition easier. He traded their car for a new wheelchair-accessible van, scheduled contractors to adapt their home for Maxine’s wheelchair, and even arranged for a family friend to adopt a Golden Retriever the couple had recently taken in.

The last task for Mike was to ensure that Maxine could continue rehabilitation once she returned to Corvallis. As longtime residents of the community, they wanted to access these services close to home.

“I was using a bike to help with recovery, and there wasn’t one anywhere near our home,” explained Maxine.

The functional electrical stimulation bike Maxine used in the inpatient rehabilitation program is designed to help patients with paralysis, weakness and spasticity by increasing muscle tone and blood flow and maintaining range of motion in patients being treated for multiple sclerosis, recovering from strokes and spinal cord injuries, among other diagnoses. That equipment was only available in Portland.

As Mike began arranging for the special bicycle to be delivered to their residence, he was struck with a thought.

“There was nothing like this in the community, and we had the chance to share the bike with others,” he said.

“An excuse to get out of the house was just a bonus,” Maxine added, as her legs – with electrodes attached – pedaled the bike at Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation in Corvallis.

So as Maxine prepared to return to her home in Corvallis, she and Mike also worked with Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation director Jeff Larson to donate funds to help purchase the bike that others in the community could also use. The Rainbolt’s contribution was matched with additional donations to complete the purchase, and the bike is now located at Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation in Corvallis.

“It takes very special people to see a need in the community during a time of personal turmoil,” said rehabilitation manager Shawn Johnson. “The Rainbolts are those very special people.”

Today, more than a year later, Mike and Maxine’s ongoing routine is becoming more defined. Maxine continues to see physical therapist Josh Funk two to three times per week to improve her functional mobility and maintain muscle mass. She remains encouraged by her strides of improvement, and she enjoys the thought that, through the new bike, she and Mike were able to help others in their own time of need.

With four therapists fully trained on the new equipment, patients of all ages are benefitting from the stimulation and movement offered with the bike, and opportunity continues to grow.

“You’ve got to make your mark,” reflected Maxine. “You’ve got to give people hope.”

Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation in Corvallis offers a team of physical, occupational and speech therapists and support staff to guide you back to health and well-being following injury, surgery, or illness. Visit samhealth.org/Rehab or call 541-768-5157 for more information.