Recovering from stroke with speech, occupational and physical therapy
Ron Bray suffered a massive stroke at the age of 52. Now a young stroke survivor at 54, Ron and his wife Becky, from Waynesville, are thankful for his experience with The RehabCare Center inpatient rehabilitation and Outpatient Therapy Services at Phelps County Regional Medical Center.
After receiving hospital care for the stroke, Ron still had a lot of serious recovery ahead of him. At 52 years old, Ron was much younger than most stroke victims.
Becky says she was ready to take him home and care for him by herself.
"I wanted to take Ron home and care for him myself, but Tyler met us while we were in the hospital and told us about the rehab program at PCRMC," Becky says. "He explained how both acute/inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation could really help Ron. Plus, I knew I could drive from our home in Waynesville to come visit him."
Tyler Kiersz is the community relations coordinator for The RehabCare Center, and says he felt that Ron would be a great candidate for both inpatient and outpatient therapy.
"It is a normal part of my job travel to other facilities and screen patients," Kiersz says. "I let them know what services PCRMC provides for them, close to their home.
The Brays were interviewed by two other rehab facilities, but they made the choice to come to The RehabCare Center at PCRMC. PCRMC offers the same specialized services and care as "big city" rehabilitation centers, but gives patients and their families something unique – genuine care and concern.
"He made us feel like he really cared about what happened to us," Becky says.
Ron stayed at PCRMC for about three-and-a-half weeks for inpatient rehabilitation while a team of therapists, doctors, nurses and assistants helped him work through a program of physical, occupational and speech therapies.
"His right side was almost completely paralyzed," Kiersz says. "His speech was basically non-existent. It was really hard to understand him."
Ron had three different therapy sessions – speech, occupational and physical – twice a day, and he would eat meals with other patients. During his stay in acute rehab, therapists helped him build up his strength, stamina and muscle memory, relearn how to speak and perform the daily tasks and activities of living.
"For physical therapy, they started me out with a walker first," Ron says. "Every day I’d get to walk a little farther. Those walks were the breakthrough for me. I realized I’d be OK."
Ron relearned how to dress, bathe and care for himself with the help of occupational therapists Anna Conner and Merla Deo.
"I came in one day to visit Ron, and they were working with him on shaving and brushing his teeth," Becky says. "At first he didn’t know which thing was for what – if he should shave with the toothbrush or the razor. They showed him how to do those things again. Sometimes he still has to think it through."
Ron worked with two speech therapists. Carla Tiddy worked with Ron during his stay in the inpatient unit, and he continued on with Linda Deardeuff for outpatient sessions three times a week for six months.
"The speech was a lot at first; it was really overwhelming," Becky says. "The speech therapists were really good with him, and much more patient than I could be. We learned that we couldn’t finish his sentences for him – I was taught not to say it for him, to wait and let him finish his sentences."
During outpatient therapy, Linda worked with Ron on relearning how to write, basic spellings and readings. "They said he may never read another book, because of his attention span and the depth of reading comprehension required, but he can and does read his newspaper articles," Becky says. "He never was much of a book person. But newspaper articles are a nice length, and he’s always been interested in the sports stories."
Life after the stroke
After three-and-a-half weeks in acute rehab and six months of outpatient therapy, Ron goes on four- to eight-mile walks most days of the week, does yard and house work, walks and cares for his dogs, drives his manual transmission truck, has conversations, and has gotten back to his hobby of bowling.
"I do bowl," Ron says. "During the winter league, I bowled a 113."
Before his stroke, Ron says he usually bowled four times a week with his various leagues. Since his stroke, he participated in the winter league, and also did a summer doubles league with Becky. Ron is glad to be able to get back to some of his favorite activities, and is thankful for the progress he has made because of his therapy.
"Everyday something happens, something gets better," Ron says. "I never gave up and I still have not."