Hillcrest Rehab Patient Found Comfort and Healing in Her Music

After experiencing a traumatic fall and undergoing emergency surgery, Cynthia Rouse, age 37, found herself recovering from a broken femur at Hillcrest Health & Rehab for six weeks.

As a surgical coordinator for the Head and Neck Surgical Oncology department at CRouse_2Nebraska Medical Center, Ms. Rouse helps patients prepare for the many worries a patient may experience when going through surgery. She has had multiple surgeries herself, due to a muscle weakness disability. Even with her background, nothing prepared her for her recent trauma and long absence from her normal routine she would endure.

Although determined to work hard to regain her strength along with a great deal of support from her care team and her family, she found herself experiencing migraine headaches and having a tough time functioning the first few days of recovery.

And then Ms. Rouse discovered two baby grand pianos in the lobby areas, and they were calling her name. She asked her parents to bring some sheet music and decided to sit down and play. Her music was an instant comfort to her, and she has played both pianos every day since, feeling they have helped her with the healing process.

“Playing is therapeutic for me. I love the sound of the red one up front,” she said with a huge smile. Her vocals are beautiful and robust, and others staying at or visiting Hillcrest have enjoyed hearing her sing and play. Complete strangers have even joined her. “One day, a couple stopped and played and sang with me.” It has been inspirational.

“This experience gave me a whole new perspective on being a patient,” Ms. Rouse said, especially as it relates to surgery following trauma. “Now I can better communicate with patients (at the hospital) before their surgery about what their discharge process may be like.”

As she continued to improve in her recovery, she could see the silver lining. “I’m just blessed,” she said. “I have learned to depend on other people, and I will come out of this a different person.”

Ms. Rouse, an Omaha native, recently returned home where she is continuing occupational and physical therapy. She asked her Dad to move her keyboard so she could continue to play and looks forward to returning to work in December.