After several stress-filled months, Joe Carter and his wife Donna were looking forward to finally taking a much-needed vacation. They had just returned from a pre-trip dinner with friends when Joe, who has high blood pressure, began to feel, in his words, “weird” and see “stars.” He reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital. A short time later, Joe had a massive stroke.
Doctors at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center were able to stabilize him, but Joe faced a number of challenges. He was unable to walk, speak, dress himself or eat, and had problems with his vision. He chose Kessler Institute for his rehabilitation and had a single goal in mind: To be independent again.
To Joe, who is passionate about cars, that meant regaining the strength and skills to rebuild engines and drive again.
His physician-led team of rehabilitation nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists and other specialists tailored treatment to help him on the road to recovery.
Joe worked with his physical therapists on exercises to build his strength, balance and mobility. Standing on his own and taking a few steps proved to be major milestone. Occupational therapists helped Joe gain movement in his arm and greater dexterity in his hands through stretching and other therapeutic exercises, electrical stimulation and the use of advanced technologies, like the Bioness or ReoGo. They also introduced adaptive equipment to help him get dressed, feed himself and perform other daily activities. In speech therapy, Joe learned breathing strategies to help him speak louder and more clearly.
One of Joe’s biggest challenges was spatial neglect, a condition that prevents many stroke survivors from sensing or “seeing” things on the affected side of their body. Neglect isn’t a vision issue, but rather a deficit in perception and attention that Joe was able to improve through Kessler’s prism adaptation therapy program.
Throughout his rehabilitation, Donna was by Joe’s side. They participated in family training to gain the strategies to ensure a smooth transition to home and life ahead. Joe said that his wife “doesn’t give up. She just keeps pushing me to work harder ... to get better.” In response, Donna admitted, “I am pushy, but it’s for your own benefit.”
As Joe continued to improve so did his outlook. “It’s hard to realize how in an instant my life totally changed. But you have to keep going, keep trying ... and that’s what I’m going to do.”