Chris' story

Photograph of Christopher Kelly

Christopher “Chris” Kelly, a 57-year-old woodworker from Bergenfield, knew that he was having a stroke when he experienced numbness and weakness in his right side and had a hard time speaking. He managed to call his son and a roommate who called for an ambulance. “I had 10 strokes in the last four years,” said Chris. He knew how it felt.

Chris was rushed to Englewood Hospital where tests confirmed that he had a massive stroke. The days that followed were challenging. He continued to have slurred speech, trouble finding the right words and his right limbs remained numb and weak.

Once he stabilized, choosing a place to regain his strength was easy. Based on positive experiences in the past, he chose to go to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR) - Saddle Brook for the next phase of his recovery. “It’s a remarkable place,” he said. “I’ve been here before, and the rehab staff is especially great.”

Chris wanted to regain strength in his right arm and leg and relearn how to speak. His physician-led therapy team created a plan to help him meet these goals.

Physical therapy activities aimed to strengthen his body and increase his endurance and activity tolerance. His confidence began to return as his body healed and he continued to get stronger. “When I could pick up my right foot for the first time, I felt so relieved,” said Chris.

Occupational therapy focused on refining his fine motor skills and completing activitiesof daily living such as hygiene, laundry and cooking. He especially credited his speech therapist for providing him with strategies to overcome hurdles, to speak with confidence and understand those around him.

Other notable milestones in Chris’ journey were his ability to walk and navigate stairs independently and communicate more effectively. The activities, though challenging, were instrumental in his recovery.

“My speech is still progressing,” explained Chris, “but I’ve learned how to work around it by talking around words, [using] gestures and writing.”

Chris’ adult children were supportive during his stay at KIR - Saddle Brook. “My son Shane works at an assisted living facility, and he was able to get me my own personal apartment,” said Chris. “That has really helped to motivate me to get better and change my lifestyle moving forward.”

Reflecting on his latest experience at KIR – Saddle Brook, Chris described his time as "incredible" and acknowledged that recovering from another stroke has taught him that he really is a strong and independent person. As he prepared to leave, Chis looked forward to the opportunity to live independently in his own space.

Chris offered advice for others facing similar circumstances: “Kessler will help you… they will teach you everything. Trust the process and remain calm.”