Willie Boone, a 47-year-old Fort Worth native, cherished his role as a devoted husband and father. Married to his wife, Sheila, for 24 years and with a daughter, Tatiana, the Boone family enjoyed spending quality time together, nurturing their garden and embracing the joys of family life.
However, Willie's life took an unexpected turn. Unbeknownst to him, the absence of a blood pressure prescription became a catalyst for tragedy. Overwhelmed by exhaustion due to his two jobs, Willie's stroke occurred when he was operating a forklift during a lunch break.
Emergency services rushed Willie to John Peter Smith Hospital where he received immediate medical attention. Subsequently, Willie found himself under the care of the compassionate therapists at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Fort Worth, for both inpatient and later at its Day Neuro Program. Willie chose BSWIR - Fort Worth for the facility's stellar reputation, backed by meticulous research conducted by his wife, which ensured Willie would receive the best possible care.
The stroke left Willie grappling with profound physical and cognitive challenges. The loss of mobility in his right arm and leg, slurred speech and compromised cognitive abilities presented significant obstacles. Willie's road to recovery seemed steep and uncertain, but he refused to yield.
Willie's determination, coupled with the expertise and guidance of the rehabilitation team, propelled him forward. With the support of physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists, he made remarkable progress. When Willie started his rehabilitation journey, he was unable to feel his entire right side. He couldn’t move his right leg, couldn’t walk and had diminished strength and stamina. He couldn’t even sit unsupported for more than five seconds before needing a rest. His physical therapists worked diligently to improve all of those things. Incorporating many balance and gross motor tasks, Willie was able to begin walking with assistance, requiring a therapist to help advance his right leg. As he continued to improve and with the expertise of his physical therapists, Willie was able to completely regain his ability to walk without any assistance. Willie’s occupational therapist was a relentless force of encouragement, helping him regain strength and overcome obstacles. He recalled, “She pushed me, but I made so many gains with her.” At the start of his rehabilitation journey, Willie had no use of his right hand. As someone who is right hand dominant, trying to adapt to this was very difficult. His occupational therapist worked relentlessly with him to improve the dexterity and coordination of his right hand. They also incorporated many dynamic balance challenges along with tasks to help improve his independence. Through speech therapy, Willie worked hard to improve his memory, cognition and speech intelligibility, which were all impacted by his stroke. With recreation therapy, Willie rediscovered the joy of engaging in activities that both challenged and motivated him. He especially loved the boxing program his recreation therapist did with him.
Milestones in Willie's recovery became beacons of hope and marked the turning point in his rehabilitation. A defining moment arrived when he bid farewell to his wheelchair, heralding a newfound sense of independence. He recalled, “It was a proud moment to know I didn’t have to rely on [the wheelchair] anymore. Knowing that I could rely on my body to support me and to walk wherever I wanted was huge.” Willie's commitment to regain his mobility enabled him to accomplish his goal of using a walker within three weeks.
The road to recovery was not traversed alone. Willie's family played an integral role in his rehabilitation. They provided support, assisting with everyday tasks, cooking and offering emotional encouragement. The presence of his brother-in-law, who dedicated two and a half months to support Willie and his wife, was an immense source of relief and gratitude.
As Willie prepares to transition from the Day Neuro Program to the outside world, he eagerly anticipates embracing life anew. While he acknowledges that it may be different from what it once was, he cherishes a profound appreciation for the simple joys that he once took for granted.
Reflecting on his rehabilitation experience at BSWIR - Fort Worth and its Day Neuro Program, Willie describes it as nothing short of extraordinary. He recalls, “While my life may not look the same, I know I am going to appreciate it more after this.”
Willie’s rehabilitation journey has reinforced his belief in the power of faith and the ability to find strength in the face of adversity. Willie implores others to seize each moment, and to offer support and encouragement to those around them.