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Nov 20, 2023

Making Better Lives: Rock Valley’s Cedarwood staff, family, playing huge role in Elaine Bates’ Parkinson’s battle

Cheering is allowed, if not encouraged. The louder, sometimes, the better.

It is one of the many beautiful things about Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Muscatine, Iowa-based Cedarwood Clinic.

Whether it’s therapist-to-patient or the entire staff at Cedarwood inspiring someone to trust that great things are but “one more rep’’ away, support is a constant.

So when the husband of patient Elaine Bates, his bride of 53 years, utters a simple, yet loving: “You go, girl,’’ to his wife as she fends off the effects of Parkinson’s, emotions run high.

Tremendous emotions. Positive and uplifting emotions.

“What a difference this has made, not only for Elaine (the patient), but for me,’’ said Roger Bates, Elaine’s husband, who has been at her side through her rehabilitation journey at Cedarwood.

A legend on the sporting scene across the state of Iowa, Roger was the longtime sports editor and face of the Muscatine Journal newspaper. He remains the public address voice for a bevy of Muscatine High School sports and one of the more recognizable faces on the local landscape.

If you Google “perfect couple,’’ a photo of Roger and Elaine has a great chance of showing up.

“She was struggling,” Roger Bates said of his wife. “Then we found out the issue and therapy was next. Easily the best thing that could have happened. This has been amazing. She (Elaine) has been determined and the therapists have had a great plan. The improvement is there, but to get to this point, Elaine has worked hard and never backed down from a challenge.’’

Elaine and Roger say Elaine’s improvement hinges on the great work of Amanda Crouch, PT, DPT, Clinic Manager/Cedarwood, and Kelly Jeffers-Gray, MOTR/L.

 Both began working with Elaine in March of 2023, using Elaine-inspired goals to improve strength, sleep better at night, work on force–generation and improve balance and walking skills. Along the path, there would be extensive work with Jeffers-Gray to address handwriting and tremor problems along with a bevy of exercises to improve eye-hand skill issues.

After her initial work with Crouch and Jeffers-Gray, Elaine completed the LSVT Big program with Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Alison Warnecke, PT, DPT, LSVT, Clinic Manager at Rock Valley’s Walcott, Iowa, outlet.

Again, she shined.

“Elaine completed her four-week LSVT Big program with Alison,’’ Crouch added with a huge smile. “After following up with her neurologist, she returned to be evaluated in my clinic. The neurologist saw the improvements she had made and said if it was working you should keep going.

“Problem is, when we evaluated her, she outperformed her test scores from when she graduated with me in May,’’ Crouch said, flashing a monster grin. “She was too good to qualify for skilled therapy. We immediately shifted gears and now she is working with Scott Morel (Performance Enhancement Specialist/ Cedarwood), where she continues to do great work.

“Elaine is a bright spot in my day,’’ Morel said. “We work on rhythm walking with her feet and hands, and endurance and balance, which she loves. She has been amazing and gets better each day.’’

Crouch, forever-positive, caring and compassionate in her approach, says she harbors great joy watching Elaine’s tremendous improvement, but says having Roger there to assist and motivate helps tremendously. He is always there to catch her medicine-ball tosses, returns her med-ball kicks and supplies encouragement at every turn.

“The joy for me is being able to interact with Elaine and Roger,’’ Crouch said. “ Elaine works hard from the time I say good afternoon until she walks to the car at the end of her session.  She may give you a hard time, plenty of facial expressions, and just the perfect amount of sass to keep you on your toes, but she is all business when it comes to her exercises. I am immensely proud of the determination Elaine has shown and how much progress she has made. I regularly tell her “You can do hard things,” and she has proven she can.’’

A true success story on all fronts.

By: Johnny Marx, Rock Valley Physical Therapy, Storyteller