While relaxing after dinner with his wife Lori, Charles Doherty suddenly felt weak on the right side of his body. Charles checked his blood pressure and sugar level, which both were fine. “I went to bed and slept for about two hours,” he recalled. “I woke up still not feeling well.” Concerned, they called 911 and the 62-year-old was rushed to Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly.
The family’s quick action was more critical than they thought. Charles was experiencing a stroke, specifically in the left basal ganglia area of his brain that helps control movement, cognition and emotions. Although the doctors were able to stabilize him, Charles, a financial comptroller and college professor, had limited use of his right arm and leg and his speech was slurred, a condition called dysarthria that’s common after a stroke.
Determined to have the “best opportunity to get back to way I was,” Charles and Lori chose Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton.
The physician-led stroke team – which included rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and other specialists – tailored a treatment plan to address his needs and help Charles reach his goals: “to walk, be independent, use my right hand, return to work and teaching ... as well as to travel and go to the gym.”
Literally step by step, Charles progressed. His physical therapists worked to rebuild his strength, balance and mobility though a series of increasingly challenging exercises and the use of electrical stimulation. Charles recalled that a key turning point was when he was first able to move his right leg, then take a few steps with the aid of a walker. Similarly, his occupational therapist provided the techniques and strategies to help regain the ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing, grooming and preparing meals, using his right arm and hand. Charles also took advantage of the hospital’s pool to improve both his overall strength and conditioning.
Charles also worked closely with his speech therapist, benefitting from exercises to strengthen the muscles of his mouth to improve clarity when speaking and strategies to support word formation and breath control. He acknowledges it was “intense” but a critical part of his recovery.
“Excellent” is how Charles describes his Kessler experience, although he admits it was difficult at times, difficult. “I found out just how resilient I am, and am now looking forward to resuming my life and my work.”
Charles also suggests that others who find themselves in need of rehabilitation should find the services that are right for them and access the many resources available. “It can make all the difference.”