Barbara's story

Barbara Weeks being helped by a therapist, using a walker.

Barbara Weeks, a retired biostatistician and web designer, has always been up for a challenge. “Everything I did was always a little bit harder than I could handle,” she said. “Nothing was easy. But it kept you pushing.”

Her world suddenly transformed one day when the entire left side of her body “stopped working” when she tried to get up from her sofa, “I realized that it was my whole left side that wasn’t working,” she said.

The immediate response of her neighbors brought her to Saint Clares Denville Hospital. Barbara was diagnosed with a stroke. After she stabilized, Barbara required specialized rehabilitative care to regain her lost strength and independence.

After three days, Barbara was transferred to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation - Chester, where her physician-led team of rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other stroke specialists tailored a comprehensive treatment plan to help her reach her goals of walking and returning home.

Facing deficits that rendered her unable to move or walk on her own, or manage basic activities of daily living, Barbara's initial challenges were daunting. However, with the guidance of her therapists and her hard work, her progress unfolded in remarkable ways.

Under the careful attention of her therapists, Barbara undertook a rigorous physical therapy program that targeted improving her leg strength, core stability and high-intensity gait training. Her determination led her to request additional therapy sessions whenever possible, resulting in her ability to walk up to 200 feet with a rolling walker. She even conquered tasks like stepping up on a 6-inch curb and climbing stairs with contact guard assistance.

Occupational therapy contributed significantly to Barbara's recovery, focusing on her left arm's mobility, coordination and balance. While initially requiring substantial assistance for transfers and self-care, Barbara worked diligently with her therapists. She worked outside of her scheduled therapy hours through an individualized in-room home exercise program and participation in the weekend exercise program. With the use of electrical stimulation, weight-bearing tasks, and coordination and standing balance activities, Barbara progressed to transferring to and from her wheelchair while completing daily activities on her own with modification.

Barbara's progress wasn't just about physical gains. Her infectious spirit and strong relationships with her care team created a supportive environment that facilitated her achievements. "The rehab team was stellar. They were really so much fun and they always told me what the objective was," she said.

Barbara's rehabilitation journey not only empowered her physically but also instilled newfound confidence. "I am retired and take things calmly and slowly. I don't have to get to work at a certain hour, so my life is casual," she shared.

As Barbara was discharged from Kessler, she was excited about reclaiming her independence and embarking on everyday activities with renewed vigor.