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Thursday, May 22

Lynch on road to full recovery, physician says

By Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch

Pfc. Jessica Lynch is expected to make a full recovery and is progressing well through physical and occupational therapy, said Dr. Greg Argyros, the physician heading up a team working with the former prisoner of war at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Lynch - who has several broken ribs, three broken back bones and various breaks in all of her extremities except her left arm - has the attitude of a fighter, pushing herself through the rigors of therapy and inspiring those around her, Argyros said Thursday.

"It's Walter Reed's privilege to work with Private Lynch and her family,'' he said. "She is a fantastic individual, and her family is fantastic. The members of the team are committed to her ultimate recovery.''

The 20-year-old Palestine, W.Va., native has been at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C., since April 12. A supply clerk with the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, Lynch was injured after her vehicle was ambushed March 23 in Iraq. U.S. Marines retrieved her from an Iraqi hospital April 1, and she was flown a short time later to a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Just weeks ago, Lynch was learning to stand again, celebrating that she could stand for five minutes, family members have said.

"Now we are having her hopping and supporting herself with a walker, and we're adding about a foot a day,'' said Argyros, assistant chief of the Department of Medicine at Walter Reed. "The most recent distance is about 20 feet.''

In occupational therapy, Lynch is learning to perform activities of daily living, such as brushing her hair and cooking a meal.

"They also work with strength and flexibility, primarily of the hands,'' said Argyros. "It's not a situation where she's having to relearn the task. The occupational therapy helps those patients do those activities around the injuries they have. She needs to learn how to write and do things with her left hand.

"She's doing really well with her left hand. She's putting in and taking out her contacts. I know I'd poke myself in the eye.''

Lynch also has been working with a mental health team that has been going through a three-part repatriation plan, which started in Kuwait, continued in Landstuhl and now at Walter Reed. Although Lynch cannot remember what happened between the time her company's vehicle overturned and the time she woke up in the Iraqi hospital, she does not have amnesia, Argyros said. She simply has no memory of it, and likely never will.

A team from each medical specialty goes over her progress daily and sets goals. She and her family set goals as well, Argyros said. She has spent mostly dinnertime and evenings with her family, he said.

"They've been a great support for her, both her mom and dad and her brother and sister, when they have been able to be here,'' he said.

The nursing staff has had a critical role in her recovery as well, being on hand 24-7 and working with the various specialists to help meet Lynch's needs and goals.

Lynch has a "fantastic attitude,'' Argyros said.

"We are pleased with the approach she is taking to the injuries she has had,'' he said. "Even if she's tired from other parts of therapy throughout the rest of the day, when it's time to get up on the walker, she puts her head down and drives forward to fulfill the task for the day.''