Ken's Story

Ken Reed headshot


Colonel Ken Reed, a 52-year-old commander of the engineer division in the U.S. Army Corps, had his life changed dramatically during a business trip to Alaska. Stricken by a sudden stroke, swift action by those around him ensured prompt medical attention for Ken. He was quickly transported to Providence Medical, marking the beginning of his journey toward recovery.

Recalling the experience, the Alabama native expressed gratitude for being in public when the stroke occurred. The actions of onlookers got him to the emergency room and the immediate administration of tPA, a life-saving clot-busting drug.

After two weeks at Providence Medical in Alaska, he transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Fort Worth. Left paralyzed on his dominant left side, Ken struggled to move, speak and regain cognitive function.

Ken's goals during inpatient rehabilitation were straightforward: to regain the ability to walk and return home. When he first was admitted to BSWIR – Fort Worth, he had no control of his left hand, left arm and left leg, some cognitive impairments and had little vision in his left eye, among other deficits.

His physician-led care team quickly took action to help the father of four with a tailored therapy plan to meet his goals. They worked to rekindle the feeling in his leg and arm by walking him through several exercises, such as arm lifts, leg lifts and stretches. Once he regained feeling, they worked on strengthening his core muscles and practicing sit-to-stand exercises to progress toward his goal of walking with assistance.

After two weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, Ken met his goals. Still hoping to regain complete feeling in his arm, he began the Day Neuro program. This comprehensive outpatient program provides focused rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke, a brain injury or other neurological disorders. With his sights set on a full recovery in Day Neuro, he pushed himself to get back to work and to achieve his ultimate goal: participating in a one-mile race.

His Day Neuro therapists immediately initiated rehabilitation, concentrating on his objectives. Physical therapists took him through several exercises, like quadruped, to help him gain strength and get feeling and sensation back in his arm. Quadruped is an exercise that works on abdominal activation and control, hip and shoulder disassociation and stability and reduces back pain.

Ken recalled, "I'll never forget the first time it got cold here, and I got chill bumps on my left arm. It was the first time I could feel on my arm - I almost cried." They also progressed on his balance, focusing on getting Ken strong enough to run.

As a Colonel in the U.S. Army Corps, public speaking and communication was a key factor. His speech therapists noted this and focused on helping Ken improve his cognition and the inflection in his voice.

Occupational therapists worked with Ken to retrain his brain to recognize his left side and limbs and improve Ken's overall independence. "I've also had to learn how to write with my right hand, which was a big focus. It's amazing how your mind can adapt and reprogram." His favorite program was recreational therapy, which took him golfing. He mentioned, "Having recreation really gives the opportunity to break things up and enjoy your day."

Throughout his journey, his family, therapists and other patients have been by his side, providing encouragement. He mentioned, "Some of the best therapy you get is talking to other people going through the same wilderness and being able to support and motivate each other to succeed and make it through."

Reminiscing on his experience at the Day Neuro program, Ken stated, "I know I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the inpatient and Day Neuro programs here…this program has kept me going and kept me motivated. This program has helped to deliver me to my outcome. I know this is part of my testimony and I can't wait to tell everyone about it."

Ken offers invaluable advice to those embarking on a similar journey: "Just know it is okay not to get it right all the time. It's about the process. It's hard on everybody, so support each other in whatever way possible."