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Life After Stroke: Chris' Story

  • Author: Chris A
  • Date Submitted: May 20, 2024
  • Category: Stroke

"How did I get a stroke at my age?" Chris A., from Nanticoke, wondered as we sat down at Allied Services Wilkes-Barre Rehabilitation Hospital to discuss the events that led up to his hospitalization.

At just 53 years old, Chris described himself as ‘always on the move’ and lived an active life as an over-the-road truck driver. However, during some time off this past April, he experienced initial symptoms that he didn't immediately recognize as serious.

While mowing his lawn, Chris became incredibly dizzy, and his left side started tingling—a sensation he had never felt before. “I had to stop and just sit for a few minutes. I had never experienced anything like it before, but in about 15 minutes or so - it was completely gone,” Chris noted.

The Importance of Listening to Your Body

Assuming it might be dehydration or insufficient breakfast, he pushed through to finish his chores. The symptoms reoccurred multiple times throughout the day during various activities with friends, but Chris continued to dismiss them as minor issues.

After a more concerning episode during a ride on all-terrain vehicles with friends, where he fell and could not get up on his own, Chris and his wife decided it was time to get checked out, so they visited a local urgent care clinic. Doctors there noted fluctuations in his blood pressure, but other than that, they were unable to find any other ailments that would be causing his symptoms. They advised him to return home, hydrate, and rest.

“As I was walking to the car and on the ride home, the dizziness was getting worse and worse - when my brother called to check in, and he insisted we go to the hospital.”

As the symptoms persisted, and following advice from his brother, Chris decided to go to a hospital. Upon arrival, continued dizziness and tingling were evident, and he was admitted to the hospital. During the night, Chris had lost all feeling in his left side, and an MRI the next day confirmed he had suffered a stroke, leading to immobility in his left side.

Chris was informed that he had suffered a blockage-type stroke, likely exacerbated by his pre-diabetic condition—which he had struggled to manage due to side effects from medications—and his smoking habit. His doctors placed him on blood thinners to prevent further incidents and emphasized the importance of managing his health risks.

Starting Over: Post- Stroke Recovery

After about three days in the acute care hospital, Chris was transferred to Allied Services Rehabilitation Hospital in Wilkes-Barre to begin his physical rehabilitation journey. Upon arrival, Chris had no use of his left side. Under the care of physical therapist Rosa Bartoletti, he began a rigorous rehabilitation regimen.

Rosa, who was enhancing her skills through a continuing education course on high-intensity gait training post-stroke, applied new techniques to aid Chris’s recovery.

“Chris's motivation and determination were key factors in his recovery. He started with significant assistance but quickly progressed. Using tools like ankle braces, weights, and electronic stimulation, we worked on motor control and strengthening exercises. His therapy included walking on various surfaces and using different assistive devices to improve his gait, balance, and mobility,” noted Rosa Bartoletti, PT, DPT.

“I think Chris will strive in outpatient and continue to get back to all the things he loved to do before his stroke.”

Chris was discharged nearly two weeks after arriving at Allied Services, needing only minimal assistance, and continues to show excellent control using a quad cane. His prognosis for continued improvement in outpatient therapy is strong, bolstered by his determination and the support of his family.

Now, as he continues to rebuild his life, he is more aware of the dangers of uncontrolled diabetes and smoking. With his family's support, Chris is committed to making significant lifestyle changes to prevent another stroke and regain his independence.

Stroke Recovery at Allied Services

Inpatient stroke rehabilitation is, for many stroke patients, the first step in their recovery. Learn more about this specialized care here or by calling 570-348-1359 (Scranton) or 570.826.3800 (Wilkes-Barre).

Outpatient stroke rehabilitation is available at Allied Services locations in your community, helping you relearn skills you lost when a stroke affected part of your brain. Learn more here or by calling 570.348.1360 or 570.826.3900.