Leonard “Len” Stuart is dedicated to his craft and customers. Turning out top notch auto body work is a way of life for him, which is why he could be found in his shop seven days a week.
But that changed one spring morning. The 78-year-old got up for work, fell and did so again at the bottom of the stairs. His wife didn’t miss a beat and rushed him to Virtua Memorial Hospital where Len was diagnosed with a stroke.
“I couldn’t move my left hand side at all – my left hand and left leg were out of commission,” he said. This was particularly concerning since he had a history of tremors on his dominant left side, it resulted in tremors on the right side as well.
Once stabilized, Len transferred to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton. At that point he couldn’t walk without assistance or handle basic self-care activities.
Len knew he needed to get started with therapy since he wanted to return to his craft. “Getting back to work was my number one thing, so walking and everything is a part of that,” he said. Len’s physician-led care team tailored a treatment plan to get him there.
He and his physical therapists focused on restoring his mobility, balance and strength. Len put his mind and body into targeted exercises that allowed him to take a few steps aided by a walker. Soon he added more mobility exercises with yoga several times a week.
Len’s occupational therapists worked with him on the adaptive techniques to help him perform daily life activities like grooming and dressing – actions that would fuel the use of his left arm and hand. Len became even more driven with therapy when his team gave him a prop spray gun and asked him to simulate his typical work activities at the body shop.
“With how motivated and compliant Len was during all of his therapies, there is no doubt that he will continue to improve,” according to his therapist.
Len returned the sentiment, “Support here is just amazing...all the therapists are just the best, I couldn’t believe how well I did with each therapy,” he said.
By the time Len discharged from Kessler, he was handling all of his daily activities independently. “I went from not knowing what was going to happen next, to seeing I still have a future,” Len said. He plans to build on the gains made at Kessler through outpatient rehabilitation and home therapy.
As for Len’s family, there were overjoyed at his progress and thrilled to have him home.