Abigail's story

Abigail walking with canes with the help of her therapist in the therapy gym.

Abigail Rosita, a medical biller, was working from home when she suddenly experienced lightheadedness and fell backward. "The next thing I knew, I was trying to stand up, and I was crawling," she said.

Her daughter discovered her and promptly dialed 911. Abigail had suffered a stroke.

Emergency services swiftly transported the 48-year-old to Jersey City Medical Center, where tests confirmed she had experienced a stroke due to occlusion of the right internal, anterior and middle carotid arteries—a blockage of blood vessels. When doctors could not perform a thrombectomy to remove the blood clots, she was transferred to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Once stabilized, the Philippines native confronted several challenges. She struggled to speak, and paralysis left her unable to independently stand, walk, or move the entire left side of her body. "I couldn't do anything for myself," she recalled.

Abigail and her family selected Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Saddle Brook for specialized stroke rehabilitation. “My sister knew about Kessler and wanted me to be at the best place in the area.”

Her physician-led stroke team of rehabilitation nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists tailored a treatment plan to help her on the road to recovery. Abigail’s goals were clear: “To be better and to do the things that I used to do.”

In physical therapy, she focused on improving her strength, balance and mobility. Her program included body-weight supported treadmill training and electrical stimulation to her left leg to promote muscle movement. She enjoyed “anything involving walking.” Abigail recalled her biggest accomplishment was “the day I was able to move my left foot and take a step on my own.” She progressed from a wheelchair to standing to walking with the aid of a cane.

Abigail’s occupational therapists simulated her home environment to teach her to safely perform daily activities such as dressing, bathing and toileting, all while using her left arm and hand. Working closely with her speech-language pathologist, she focused on improving her problem-solving and cognitive communication skills through various treatments and exercises. She said, “I enjoyed my speech therapy because it feels like my brain is working hard.”

Reflecting on her time at Kessler, she shared, “I had the best experience.” She expressed gratitude to her care team. “It’s unfortunate that I’m here, but I think I had the best care team. Everybody is compassionate, caring, kind and work together as a team.”

Abigail now offers advice for others ... slow down and lead a healthy life. “This is a wake-up call to deal with stress. I have told all of my friends,” she said.

After a month at Kessler, the mother of two was looking forward to “being home after a long time away.” She planned to build on the progress she made at Kessler through in-home services and outpatient rehabilitation.