While active in the Army during the Vietnam war, Brigadier General Joseph Stringham was the Commander at Camp Ben Cat, where he organized troops called the “Mike Force” to form a Chinese mercenary battalion. Interestingly, John Wayne starred in the movie, “The Green Berets,” highlighting this historic wartime effort that Stringham had experienced first hand.
When he retired from the Army, Stringham moved to his 40-acre farm in Northeast Alabama where he remained active in farm duties. Life was good, until one day in March when he was on a ladder, repairing a roof on his granddaughter’s tree house. A gust of wind knocked him 12 to 15 feet to the ground. Following his Army paratrooper training, he was able to break his fall, landing in a “tuck and roll” position. This most likely saved his life and most definitely saved him from a more serious head injury. He was rushed to his local hospital, and later transferred to Huntsville Hospital’s trauma unit. The medical team found multiple rib fractures, an internal head injury and chest trauma.
Six days after his fall, Stringham was transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of North Alabama, while still experiencing considerable pain and unable to walk. It was especially difficult for him to get in and out of bed because of pain. However, as a highly active person, he was motivated to get back to farming and other activities.
Stringham’s first goal was to learn how to transition to and from bed as comfortably as possible, with his therapists finding the best solution for the task.
“What impressed me the most about my stay at HealthSouth is that they tailored my therapy around my own personal goals, rather than telling me what they thought I should be doing,” Stringham says.
Stringham set his personal goals just as an Army General would do.
“I wanted to do 100 crunches a day, just like I have always done,” he says. “I wanted to work even longer after my therapy sessions were over each day. I told them I wanted to do more, and my therapy tech said, ‘If you want to, I can stay and work with you.’”
Stringham referred to his team as “the second floor mafia.”
After spending two weeks at HealthSouth inpatient and four weeks in outpatient services, Stringham is free of pain. Most of his flexibility is back and he has returned to his full activities on his farm. He performs daily exercises that were prescribed for him at discharge and can do 50 crunches. He couldn’t be more pleased with his success.
“This is not my story, but the story of the doctors, nurses, therapists and techs that worked with me patiently, competently and carefully,” Stringham adds. “I couldn’t have done it without my team and am indebted to them all!”