Wilbur Levengood is not a man to take a setback lying down, or for that matter, even sitting down. The 65-year old lifelong resident of Caroline County is too busy – as a farmer, an entrepreneur, a Caroline County commissioner and member of the County’s volunteer fire department – to be “laid up” with injury or illness.
But accidents happen, and farm equipment can be especially hazardous. On June 12, 2020, Levengood was working alone on one of his 200 tillable acres in Goldsboro, Md., when he slipped on to equipment and ruptured his left quadricep tendon above the kneecap. He was flown by helicopter to Baltimore for surgery, which took place at Johns Hopkins Hospital on June 15, and just one day later, sent home in a cast to begin a recovery that seemed likely to sideline him from farming and many other activities for some time.
“My wife, Sherry, did some research and told me it would take months,” Levengood recalls.
Three weeks after his discharge from the hospital, his cast came off and was replaced by a brace. By the last week of August, steady improvement had enabled him to begin physical therapy at University of Maryland Shore Rehab at Denton. Eager to get back to full activity, he was already walking in a straight brace, but not yet able to get back on his tractor.
When he arrived for his first therapy appointment at UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton, Levengood was pleased to see a familiar face – Charlie Moore, DPT, who grew up in Denton. Moore’s mom, Catherine, is county comptroller, and his dad, Randy, formerly served as town council member and mayor of Denton. For all but two years, the 34-year old physical therapist has lived in the County and since 2012, had served as a PT with UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, UM Shore Rehab at Denton, UM Shore Home Care, Autumn Lake Nursing Home before returning to the Denton Rehab team in 2019.
“I felt more comfortable knowing that I would be seeing Charlie for my therapy,” Levengood says. “When you get local care from someone you know, you have a sense of trust, and trust is important because half of healing successfully is having a good state of mind.”
The respect is mutual. Over the course of Levengood’s therapy, which was provided twice a week at first but is now once a week, Moore says, “I was really impressed by his motivation and determination. About half way through his therapy, he had regained a little over 70 percent of full use and functionality of his injured leg, in spite of such taxing activities as lifting and carrying 50-pound bags of feed. I do have to remind him to not to over-do it – with muscle injuries, sometimes you can keep pushing through but there are times when you need to rest and give it a break to avoid strain and swelling.”
Levengood’s therapy includes a range of exercises at home as well as during the PT sessions. The goal is to achieve an even, steady gait and good stability that will enable him to move about safely, resume his full range of normal activities and avoid further injury.
Some activities have been more difficult than others; for example, Levengood found that stepping into and out of a high vehicle requires strength that he needed to work on. “My tractor step is pretty high, but getting in and out of the fire truck is much harder – I can really feel it,” he says.
Moore has recommended exercises on a specific piece of equipment, the Power Tower, to help Levengood with the high-step challenge. And at times, therapy has included hands-on massage. “Charlie realized I had a knot in the muscle. He used a massage technique to work it out, and that helped me move with less strain and stress,” Levengood says.
“Every injury and surgery is different, and every patient is different,” says Moore. “To provide physical therapy that really helps, you have to understand the patient’s overall health and strength, how well they are healing, and what their normal activities are.”
The challenge for Levengood now is to find the time to do his home exercises, and equally important, to avoid doing too much too soon. “Taking honey off the hives the other day, I just stood too long and lifted too much. I get a lot of pain in my knee cap, and it seems I might need a cortisone shot. But I just have so many things I’ve got to do – I mean, it’s time to cut soybeans. And I’m also spending time at the firehouse – the other night when I got home it was almost 10 o’clock,” he says.
Moore has told his patient that while his leg has gotten much stronger, full recovery will take a few more months. “Charlie’s done well for me – he says I’m 77 percent there but I think I’m 80 or 85 percent there,” Levengood says. “Shore Regional Health has been good to Caroline County — I was excited when we opened the medical pavilion here and I’m glad to be getting my therapy here.”
As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,200 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.