Debra Stein always loved to travel and, since retiring, was even more excited about having the freedom to go on trips. As she was getting ready to leave for the airport, Debra suddenly began to experience numbness in her left leg, arm and hand, as well as her face. She called to her husband and instead of heading to the airport as planned, Debra was rushed to the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway.
Doctors performed a series of tests, including three CT scans, an MRI and an echocardiogram before diagnosing her with an acute parenchymal hemorrhage, often referred to as a brain bleed that disrupted the normal flow of oxygen to Debra’s brain. In other words, Debra had a stroke that left her unable to walk, perform basic personal activities or communicate her thoughts. She remained in the hospital for nearly two weeks and, as her condition slowly improved, she and her doctors agreed the next step in her recovery was specialized rehabilitation. She chose the Day Neuro Program at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway.
Debra worked with the Day Neuro team to set a series of goals: to walk on her own, take care of herself without assistance and be able to drive. Most of all, she wanted to be able to travel.
Physical, occupational and speech therapies were all critical in Debra’s recovery. She worked with her physical therapists to improve her strength, balance and function in her left leg. Although it took all of her concentration just to stand up – and stay up – on her feet, Debra knew she reached a major milestone when she realized she was walking without thinking about it. It had become second nature again and that was the turning point in her recovery.
Occupational therapy helped her focus on regaining her independence and being able to perform necessary self-care tasks on her own. However, it was speech therapy that tested her resolve the most. Debra acknowledged that her speech therapy was the most challenging aspect of her recovery as she regained her higher level cognitive communication skills. Working closely with her speech-language pathologist, Debra received a variety of treatments, exercises and computer-based technologies in which she consistently exceeded her prior level of cognitive communications skills.
“The therapists are great. Each one has used their talents and made me a much better person than before. Each one was so positive every day, which is so important,” Debra recalled.
Upon discharge, Debra proudly said, “I walk with no assistance. I’m self-sufficient in my personal care and doing 99% of the things I did at home before the stroke. Once I receive clearance, I’ll be able to drive ... and I plan to travel as soon as possible. With the help of my therapists, I have accomplished most of my goals. I do not believe I would be this far along without them.”
Debra is now setting new goals – learning Spanish to keep her mind sharp and taking up yoga to stay as physically and mentally fit as possible.