Medically Integrated Programming

Meet Lucille Renfro

Lucille Renfro, 71, was working hard to get healthy and overcome a long-term back injury when she suffered a major setback: a stroke in October 2012.

The retired U.S. Postal worker went from rigorous physical exercise to recovery mode, learning how to talk and then to walk all over again, an effort that took years.

Balance was a serious problem. Even with a cane, every step was a struggle.

Finally, in 2017 she found Movement is Medicine, offered through HealthSpring Fitness and wanted to try it out because more traditional physical therapy sessions weren't helping as much as she'd hoped.

She was partnered with a trainer, Megan Thiedeman, whose first assignment was to test Lucille's mobility. That first session proved that lessons on land were not much of an option.

"She was in too much pain," recalled Megan. "So we decided to try the pool."

Only problem was that Lucille couldn't swim, nor did she feel comfortable even stepping into the water.

It helped that Megan got into the pool with her.

"I remember I held on and wouldn't let go," said Lucille with a smile.

But five or six sessions later, Lucille was like a new person, said Megan. "Now she can step in with confidence and float on her own. By the end of the Movement is Medicine program, she was fearless."

Being able to exercise in the water meant that she could move her body in ways not possible on land.

"I'm getting stronger," said Lucille. "I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm getting there."

She gets plenty of encouragement from her daughter, Terralyn Renfro and her two grandchildren.

"They say, 'C'mon, Grandma. You can do it."

A Prescription for Movement Is Medicine

NorthBay HealthSpring Fitness's Movement is Medicine program is open to members and nonmembers alike, according to Julie Cassara, fitness manager tasked with developing and overseeing the program.

Any local physician - not just NorthBay Healthcare doctors - can team up with one of a dozen or so fitness specialists at HealthSpring to prescribe exercise as a form of medicine. Together they create a specific and progressive fitness routine to fit their patient's needs.

Although insurance will not cover the cost, special introductory package prices are available, said Julie.

Qualifying conditions to participate in the program can include transition from physical therapy into post rehabilitation, managing an existing medical condition, needing to improve strength or lose weight in preparation for a medical procedure.

You can learn more about Movement is Medicine here.