George's story

George Dispey with therapists

George Dispey with therapistGeorge Dipsey, a 47-year-old husband, father and Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) technician, never imagined what he perceived as a few muscle cramps was a stroke that would almost take his life.

The day before he went to the hospital, he noticed a few unusual leg symptoms but didn’t take them seriously. "I could move, but I was not moving right," he recalled. His wife, however, could tell something was off and, the following day, she insisted he go to the emergency room.

George was admitted to the hospital where a CT scan and MRI revealed the seriousness of his condition. Even so, he didn’t grasp the life-threatening nature of what was happening to him. He was still in the hospital when he experienced another rupture in his brain. George said. “They told my wife they thought I wouldn’t wake up.”

Fortunately, George did wake up, but he was unable to use the right side of his body. He could not walk, perform everyday tasks, think clearly or speak coherently. Once he was medically stable, his physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help him regain her mobility and independence. His wife Jody chose Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR) - Saddle Brook for George’s next level of recovery.

Upon arrival at KIR - Saddle Brook, his physician-led team of rehabilitation nurses and therapists developed a plan to help him regain his mobility and speech. George would need physical, occupational and speech therapy to reach his greatest potential.

Physical therapy activities aimed to strengthen his body and increase his endurance and activity tolerance. George made remarkable progress in a short period. "Nothing short of a miracle," he said. "In a month, I got working arms, limbs and a voice… in a month!"

But this wasn’t how he felt at the time. At the start, he was angry and frustrated. “I felt like I was ruined,” admitted George. Would he be able to use his limbs, do things he enjoyed before the stroke, be able to attend his son’s wrestling matches? Then, six days into rehab, his leg moved—just a little bit—and his father was there to celebrate the milestone. Along with the help of an encouraging certified nursing assistant, his attitude changed and he began to embrace his therapy.

Speech therapists also worked with George providing strategies to increase the rate and volume of his speech. He thought speech therapy would be tougher, but he was talking in three weeks.

While he progressed quickly, it was not easy. “I am one of the toughest dudes I have ever met,” said George, laughing. “I knew it, but now I really know it!”

Reflecting on his progress, George said his family's support was vital. His father, sister and Jody were there to help and encourage him through therapy and when they weren’t there, they were calling and texting. “My wife was so confident that I was going to get 100 percent better, and that kept me going,” he said. “My son Georgie, I had to live for him.”

As he prepared to go home, George acknowledged the role KIR - Saddle Brook played in his recovery, "I don't ever want to be at a rehab again, but if I have to, this is the place to be."
George continues to receive outpatient therapy with Kessler. “He’s made so much progress,” said Jody. “It’s been a really long journey, and Kessler has been amazing.”