In the last year, COVID-19 has affected millions of people’s health and finances. For Todd Kolkhorst, it impacted both yet he never even contracted the virus. For more than 20 years, Todd worked for the same company, until the pandemic hit. Todd was laid off during the economic downturn and lost his insurance benefits. The financial strain led to cutting costs, including Todd’s routine prescription for high blood pressure. In hindsight, Todd believes this was what lead to his stroke.
Todd says there were warning signs such as several unusual headaches, but he dismissed them. Then one night he had to be rushed to the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway where he underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. His diagnosis was an ischemic stroke – which is caused by a blood clot preventing the normal flow of oxygen to the brain. Post-surgery, Todd was transferred to another hospital to undergo more procedures and recover from complications, including a staph infection.
When Todd stabilized, he began inpatient rehabilitation where he worked on rebuilding his endurance, strength, speech and cognitive abilities – but that was just the beginning of his recovery. Todd needed another level of care to achieve all of his goals. He had made marked improvements, but still had difficulty walking, lack of coordination and weakness. For the next step, Todd and his wife chose to continue recovery with the Day Neuro Program at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Lakeway (BSWIR – Lakeway). The Day Neuro Program provides intensive daily therapy and is designed to help people get back to work following a stroke. That was exactly what Todd needed.
Todd’s main goal was just to be able to be ‘Dad’ again. With three kids, ages 10 to 15, Todd wanted to be able to give them his all again. He also wanted to be able to drive again, and return to work. Todd and his therapists continued to focus on things like balance, dizziness, strength building and endurance. Physical therapy sessions focused on those challenges with the added benefit of being able to get outside and use the surrounding area as part of the sessions.
Speech therapy was vital for Todd to reach his goals. It helped him improve not just his speech, which was affected by the stroke, but also his cognitive thinking and memory. Occupational therapy was his lifeline back to independence. He worked with his occupational therapist to adapt daily living tasks to his abilities and build back endurance so he was able to help with the kids at home. It also provided the foundation for getting back to driving and work. Todd’s therapist even helped go over his resume and prepped him for his job search.
Todd shared, “Without the Day Neuro Program, I would not be where I am today -- physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Today, Todd takes two walks a day with his dog as part of a new exercise program to keep active and he is well on his way to a “return-to-driving” program in the near future.
Todd also thanks his wife for being so incredibly supportive throughout his recovery. He looks forward to being able to give back to her by helping around the house and, most importantly, just being a dad again.