Brooke Richardson was thrilled following the birth of her son, but soon after returning home, she started battling sleepless nights, headaches and swelling. She brushed it off as hormonal changes. When the headaches worsened, she went to the ER and was sent home, being told that her symptoms were a side-effect of her recently delivery. Several nights later, Brooke woke up short of breath, lethargic and scared. Her husband called 911.
At the hospital, an MRI revealed that Brooke had sustained a brain bleed in her right frontal lobe, leading to a –a hemorrhagic stroke. It resulted in partial left-side paralysis rendering her unable to walk. She also had difficulty speaking, swallowing, toileting and left with "flat affect," the inability to facially express emotions.
Once Brooke was medically stable, she was transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Frisco on the recommendation of her neurologist.
She arrived with a clear goal: to hold and care for her children again. Before she could do that, she needed to be able to take care of herself. That’s where the Baylor Scott & White Rehab – Frisco team stepped in. Her speech therapists worked on improving her speech, swallowing and cognitive skills. Daily physical therapy focused on gait training and strengthening exercises to help relearn to walk independently.
In occupational therapy, Brooke worked on adapting her skills to perform daily activities, like dressing, grooming and safely transferring from a bed, chair or car. Due to a midline visual shift – a common post-stroke condition that can impact coordination, concentration, walking and even reading - Brooke worked with a neuro-optometrist on exercises to improve this vision imbalance. She also became active in the hospital’s therapeutic recreation program where she enjoyed adaptive yoga, boxing and creative expression classes.
Brooke has reached many milestones in her recovery, but claims one was her physical and mental turning point: the first time she was able to use the restroom on her own without a catheter or assistance. While it may seem trivial to some, it was a momentous achievement to Brooke as it signaled that she was going to get better, be independent and reach her goal of returning home to her family.
After three weeks of intensive inpatient care, Brooke discharged from Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Frisco ready to resume many of her usual activities – from caring for her children to preparing meals and even teaching her daughter how to read. She has even started her own YouTube channel to support other mothers who have had a stroke. Brooke is continuing to build on the gains she has made, participating in Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehab’s Day Neuro Program, working on her cognitive and speaking skills. She has learned just how strong and resilient she is and can’t wait to go from full-time therapy sessions back to full-time mom.