Published on October 25, 2017

Davenport Man’s Personality Spreads Throughout Unit

For a man who stands “on my tiptoes’’ at 5 foot nothing, Jassen Yoke is making a large, lasting impression with patients on the physical rehabilitation unit of Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park.

He is the one rolling down the halls with a cape–a pillow case–tied around his neck and with flapping, noisy playing cards attached to the wheels of his wheelchair.

He is the one making personal rounds of the rooms of patients, making them laugh and breaking up what can be long, strenuous days of therapy and even longer nights in rooms.

He is the one matching video game skills with another young patient on video games requiring them to use their hands and arms.

He is the one with the outdoor pass from the unit who uses the pass to gather acorns to feed to squirrels, who chatter when they see him approaching.

“They’ve been calling me the floor’s mascot,’’ Yoke explained as he walked the halls with a walker trailed by physical therapist Janel Stout.

“I like goodwill ambassador better,’’ Stout said.

Relearning Skills

Using a walker, Jassen works his therapist on learning how to walk againYoke, a 44-year-old from Davenport, is relearning walking and climbing steps after undergoing a spinal surgery in August at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He was injured twice in the last 18 months.

“Last year I was on a crew building a house and I fell into a sinkhole 4 or 5 feet and hit the back of my head on the foundation,’’ Yoke explained. “I was knocked out for about 20 seconds.

“I woke up but I had tingling in both arms and on one side of my face. I just learned to live with it.’’

Stout scolded him at this point about not seeing a doctor.

“You know you should have seen a doctor, right?’’ she said.

“I know that now.’’

Yoke continued to work construction. He had so much weakness in one hand that he would find ways to secure a hammer so the tool would not slide out of his weakened grip.

“I was afraid it would slip out and hit someone,’’ he explained.

Only two months ago, Yoke was injured again. He was helping a neighbor when he picked up a slab of sheetrock. He felt a pop in his neck.

“That dropped me. I needed help to get back up.The next day I couldn’t feel anything on my left side. I couldn’t stand up,’’ Yoke explained. “I was life-flighted to Iowa City and don’t remember much about what went on there.’’

Yoke said he was told his C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae were fused together. A pool of blood had formed at C6 and C7, compressing the spinal cord. He had a laminectomy, a procedure which enlarges the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

He is now regaining function and is able to walk with a walker and with the support of canes.

“These people are very good,’’ Yoke said of his Genesis rehabilitation care team. “I’ve made a lot of progress. They work us hard to get better.’’

Yoke Makes Impression

The rehabilitative process can be long. There can be a number of bends in progress. Yoke has helped others on the floor stay motivated with his personality.

“They probably think I’m kind of a clown. I’m the guy telling the goofy stories. But there is no use sitting around moping. You can get down in this situation, but I refuse to do that,’’ he said. “I’m not one to lay around inside feeling sorry for myself. That’s why I wanted to be able to go outside.’’

Yoke is approaching a discharge date. He will still require therapy when he is out of the hospital.

“If you have any issues, you’ll see a doctor, right?’’ Stout said.

“I think that is probably a good idea,’’ he said.

The Genesis Rehabilitation Unit provides rehab-specific nursing care, intensive and comprehensive therapy services – physical, speech, occupational and recreational therapies -- for individuals with debilitating illness or injuries, including stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation, brain injury, hip fractures, and, neurological disorders.

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