Several years ago, Blake Bethke grew tired of his day job and started his own construction and home renovation business. He never looked back since and, at age 60, is still a very busy, hard-working craftsman. Despite a history of high blood pressure, Blake always considered himself to be in good health – until his life came to a screeching halt.
One Friday, Blake felt ‘off,’ but he continued working. Later that night he still didn’t feel well and decided to lie down for a bit. That is the last thing Blake remembers.
Recognizing something was seriously wrong, Blake’s spouse called 9-1-1. Blake was rushed to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway where a CT scan revealed that he had a stroke and had developed pneumonia. Within a few days, doctors were able to stabilize his condition, but the stroke left Blake unable to walk and perform daily activities due to right-sided weakness. He also had difficulty speaking, swallowing and recalling words and thoughts.
Blake’s doctors recommended Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Lakeway (BSWIR – Lakeway) to help in his recovery. As it turned out, Blake was also a perfect candidate for BSWIR – Lakeway’s Day Neuro Program – an intensive day program designed to help patients return home and resume their lives following a stroke or other neurological injury.
At first, the enormity of the situation was challenging for Blake. “My presumption of having a stroke was that everyone’s stroke was the same,” he recalled. “I thought my life was over and I felt like I had no chance of getting better.”
His BSWIR team of rehab specialists didn’t agree and began to show Blake what was possible. In speech therapy, Blake worked on a series of exercises and learned the strategies to improve his memory and the ability to speak more clearly. His swallowing capacity also progressed, allowing him to enjoy a regular diet.
In occupational therapy, Blake performed a range of exercises to rebuild strength in his right arm and credits the unique use of “theraputty,” a special hand exercise material, with helping him regain crucial movement in his fingers. However, it was in physical therapy where Blake reached the turning point in his recovery. Through balance training, strengthening exercises and the support of an ankle orthosis (brace), Blake advanced from using a walker to walking a mile without assistance as he neared completion of his Day Neuro Program.
“I will be forever grateful for them believing in me when I did not believe in myself. I looked forward to coming in every day... a new day, a new challenge, a new strength. That goes for my legs, arm, hands, shoulders and my brain,” said Blake.
Through BSWIR’s intensive rehabilitation program, Blake not only met but exceeded all of his rehab goals, including getting back to work on a limited basis. He is committed to doing the home-based exercises his rehab team provided to continue his recovery. While he knows he needs to take it slow, Blake is itching to return to work full-time rebuilding houses just as he has worked to rebuild his life.