63-year-old Jim Payne is accustomed to change. Born in Missouri, his family moved from Missouri to California and eventually to Arkansas in just nine years. Jim settled in Arkansas until he became an adult, attending the University of Arkansas. After graduating, he headed to Texas to work as a graphic designer.
But one day, something unusual happened during a visit to Arkansas to see his family for a holiday. The room seemed to spin around him, and walking became challenging. He had experienced vertigo before, but this was more serious and unexpected – he had suffered a stroke.
His daughter-in-law recognized the severity of the situation and rushed him to Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Only admitted for a few days until he stabilized, Jim transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Fort Worth. There, he began his journey to recovery in their Day Neuro Program.
His physician-led care team could see that Jim faced numerous challenges, including balance, strength, cognition and speech issues. Jim expressed he wanted to regain his independence and resume everyday tasks without assistance.
Taking note of his goals, therapists got to work right away, rebuilding his core strength to begin the venture of walking with assistance. Leg lifts, toe taps and resistance band training were all necessary to get Jim ready to take the next step, standing. Once he rebuilt his strength, he began to stand with assistance, using parallel bars as guidance. Over time, he began to walk with a walker and then a cane.
With each passing day, Jim made tremendous strides. Starting from a wheelchair, he progressed to walking with a cane, nearing the point of walking independently.
In tandem with physical therapy, Jim went through various therapies and activities tailored to his needs. Completing tasks incorporating fine motor movements, Jim regained dexterity and coordination faster than expected. For example, twirling a pen helped Jim to regain the coordination he had been lacking in his hand.
These victories, both small and large, marked significant turning points in his recovery, fostering a sense of hope and accomplishment. "I got the coordination in my hand back a lot quicker than they thought I would," Jim recalled.
Jim's family was a crucial part of his journey, offering support and participating in education and training programs at the hospital. Their encouragement and selflessness were Jim's sources of strength.
As Jim prepared to leave BSWIR – Fort Worth, he eagerly anticipated the new change and the freedom to travel once more and reconnect with his loved ones in Arkansas. Cooking and indulging in his artistic passions also awaited him as he aspired to infuse more color and creativity into his life.
As Jim reflected on his time at BSWIR – Fort Day Neuro, he mentioned, "It's been fantastic. I've got nothing to compare it to, but it has been so much better than I envisioned. The employees here have impressed me so much with their dedication and care every day. I haven't met anybody here who isn't fully engaged and committed to helping everyone in any way they can."
When asked to share advice with others facing similar challenges, Jim offered a powerful insight: "Let others help you, even when it's difficult to accept assistance. And never give up; never quit trying."