Patient Beats the Odds Thanks to Baptist Health Floyd’s New Spine Center

Garland Earls is a remarkable man. At 89 years old, he lives his life to the fullest every day. He works 36 hours per week as a door greeter at the Wal-Mart store in Clarksville, and enjoys an active lifestyle with his wife Venita. But that all threatened to come to an end on March 1 of this year when he slipped in his driveway while taking out the garbage.

“I Thought He was Destined to be in Pain for the Rest of His Life.”

In extreme pain radiating from his lower back into his hips and legs, Garland paid a visit to his family doctor, Howard Pope, MD, of Georgetown Family Medicine. “When Garland first came to see me after his fall, he was confined to a wheelchair and absolutely miserable,” explained Dr. Pope. “He was obviously a very active man who was not about to slow down, even though he’s more than earned it. His number one goal was to get back to work as soon as possible. I sent him for an MRI, which revealed a bulging disc in his spine. I honestly thought he was destined to be in that wheelchair and in chronic pain taking pain medications for the rest of his life. Patients with an injury like his at advanced ages don’t typically recover very well.”

Dr. Pope continued, “My first course of treatment for Garland was to treat his condition with pain medication, anti-inflammatories and bed rest. He improved marginally, but was still unable to return to work and had lost a lot of weight, so the next step was sending him to physical therapy sessions and having him wear a back brace throughout the day for support. When he again only showed marginal improvement, I decided to try the new Spine Center at Baptist Health Floyd. It hadn’t even opened yet when I referred him, but I had done all I could do and thought they might be able to help. On April 16, he became their very first patient.”

Howard Pope, MD

“Garland’s recovery is a real success story that is truly out of the ordinary. When I saw the condition he was in after his fall, I never could have guessed that he would be back to work and virtually pain-free in less than three months.”

Howard Pope, MD
Board Certified Family Medicine Physician
Georgetown Family Medicine

A Focus on Function

Rodney Chou, MD, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with the Baptist Health Floyd Spine Center. “When I met Mr. Earls, he had very limited mobility, was on a pain medication regimen, wearing a back brace and had already undergone land-based physical therapy. I wanted to change the focus of his care from blocking pain to actually fixing his problem and increasing function. I recommended that he switch to warm water physical therapy at Baptist Health Floyd’s Rehabilitation Department in the New Albany YMCA, cease taking pain medications and begin lumbar epidural injections instead, and only wear the back brace one hour at a time. He responded really well, particularly to the warm water therapy, which allows patients to be more active without fighting gravity and further damaging the fragile joints in their spine.”

Dr. Pope added, “I saw Garland improve by leaps and bounds under Dr. Chou’s care at the Spine Center. He is a very determined man, and nothing was going to stand in the way of him getting back to the life he enjoyed. I think between the physical therapy team, Dr. Chou and Garland himself, it was a perfect match. Every time he came in, he had reached a new milestone. I saw him go from a wheelchair to a wheeled walker, then to a quad cane, and finally to standing and walking on his own pain-free, all in the span of less than two months. He’s even joined the YMCA and continues working out in the warm water pool three days a week with his wife to maintain his progress.”

Rodney Chou, MD

“Treating Garland’s injury at the Spine Center allowed us to make his care completely comprehensive. We were able to switch his focus from simply blocking pain to actually correcting the condition and increasing his ability to function in his daily activities.”

Rodney Chou, MD
Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist
Baptist Health Floyd Spine Center

Back to Work and Pain-Free

Garland chimed in, “My first day back to work at Wal-Mart was June 20, and I was so happy. My shifts are seven hours long and they provide me with a chair, but I feel so good that I don’t even need it! I stand the entire time. I don’t take pain medication and I didn’t even need all the epidural shots that Dr. Chou recommended. And I love working out in the warm pool at the YMCA. That’s something I never would have discovered if not for the Spine Center.”

Garland Earls
Garland Earls works as a door greeter at the Wal-Mart store in Clarksville.

Call 812-949-5933 or 1-877-487-5933, or visit to learn more about treatment options available at the Baptist Health Floyd Spine Center.