On an ordinary day in mid-April, Jorge Diaz was sitting in his living room talking with his wife and children, when in mid-conversation, the 80-year old’s words stopped making sense. His family was confused and began to worry that something was wrong. Then the unexpected happened – Jorge lost consciousness and fell. The family immediately called an ambulance and he was taken to Baptist Hospital before being transferred to Kendall Regional Hospital.
At the hospital, Jorge underwent testing to determine what had occurred and it was determined that he had suffered a stroke on the right side of his brain. Doctors decided the best course of action for Jorge was to perform a thrombectomy, a surgical procedure of removing blood clots. Jorge was put on a ventilator for two days to let his body begin to heal. Once stabilized, Jorge was transferred to West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital to begin the next step of his recovery journey.
The stroke left Jorge with left-sided weakness and pain, unable to walk, perform his personal care tasks. Jorge’s physician-led team of physical, occupational and speech therapists wasted no time in assessing his needs and helping him set recovery goals.
In occupational therapy, Jorge worked with his therapists to learn new ways to complete activities of daily living, including grooming, dressing, eating and using the bathroom. Therapists introduced and educated Jorge on using adaptive utensils for his left hand to assist him due to his weak grip. In therapy, they also used a mirror to serve as a visual cue for Jorge to help keep his body straight, as the weakness on his left side caused him to lean to the left as opposed to sitting or standing up straight.
Physical therapists utilized a variety of techniques and equipment to help Jorge get moving again. Because his balance was significantly impacted by the stroke, therapists incorporated weights in his sessions to improve strength and endurance, helping him progress from using a wheelchair to walking and using stairs with assistance. In speech therapy, Jorge worked with speech-language pathologies on his swallowing and speech. In just three sessions, Jorge had shown so much improvement that he was back to eating a normal diet.
After several weeks at West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital, Jorge was ready to return home and continue his recovery with outpatient therapy. Jorge’s family played a huge role in his recovery by being supportive and attending family training with the therapists to ensure they would be prepared for his safe return home. His therapists credit his family support and Jorge’s strong motivation to improve and return home with his excellent progress.
“I did not ever expect something like this to happen to me, but it made me realize how strong I really am inside,” Jorge said. He encourages other people who are recovering to: “Be positive and look for help. Receiving help does not mean weakness. Help will get you back to your life and allow you to be able to enjoy it again.”