Wonti's story

Wonti Worjroh with his therapists at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

To say that Wonti Worjroh, an active family man, part-time house flipper and former college football player had varied interests would be an understatement. This 44-year-old IT professional loved reading historical fiction, listening to Ed Sheeran and following trends in the stock market.

All of this came to an abrupt halt when Wonti experienced a stroke. Specifically, Wonti had an acute left middle cerebral artery (the largest artery in the brain) stroke that left him unable to move and communicate.

One day, Wonti’s fiancé, Akeebah, noticed that he couldn’t speak and, suspecting a stroke, called 911. He was rushed to Capital Regional Hospital where her fears were confirmed. After a series of tests and scans, Wonti faced numerous challenges stemming from his stroke: he was unable to move his right arm and right leg, speak, dress himself, groom, walk or even get out of bed.

After he was medically stable, Wonti was in need of intense comprehensive rehabilitation if he hoped to regain these skills. His family did some research and decided that Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR) – West Orange would be the best place for him to rebuild his active life.

Upon admission to Kessler, it was clear Wonti was unable to sequence and plan movements, including movements of his tongue and mouth in order to speak. With his family, Wonti made a list of goals: talk, get out of bed himself, walk and someday play again with his young son.

His physician-led multidisciplinary therapy team at KIR – West Orange created a treatment plan to help him meet his goals. As Wonti’s family would play an integral role in his rehabilitation, his care team took the time to help his family understand what he was going through.

Wonti’s physical therapists guided him through exercises to strengthen his body and restore functionality to his right leg and arm. Physical therapy sessions focused on high-intensity gait training, utilizing innovative equipment such as the LiteGait and Andago body weight support systems. Wonti made quick progress.

The first time Wonti walked with a hemi walker, which provided stability and support on the right side, he cried tears of happiness. Soon after, his family was there to cheer him on as he walked with a wide base quad cane.

Occupational therapy sessions helped Wonti build the strength, endurance and cognitive skills so that he could engage in activities of daily living. He worked on toileting and dressing, improving spatial neglect and used a functional electrical stimulation bike to help improve right-side attention.

Speech therapy sessions were instrumental in restoring Wonti's ability to communicate. His speech therapists reinforced his pronunciation and taught him methods of breath support to use while speaking.

In addition, Akeebah and others participated in family training to ensure that they would be able to care for Wonti when he got home.

When he was close to discharge, he and his family reflected on his rehabilitation experience with gratitude. Wonti felt prepared for the next part of his rehabilitation journey with outpatient therapy.

Indeed, when Wonti arrived at KIR – West Orange, he needed a mechanical lift to transfer. He is now able to transfer with close supervision assistance, he can walk with a narrow base quad cane with assistance, can consistently say yes and no with correct meaning, is learning more sounds to form words, and he can use the bathroom with supervision.

“I know he appreciated being challenged in therapy every day,” said his sister, Weddy. “If you give him a challenge, he won’t give up.”