79-year-old John Atlee was enjoying a simple bike ride when he had a stroke. The stroke caused him to fall off his bicycle, which resulted in further head injury.
John couldn’t do much when he arrived at Life Care Center of Melbourne, Florida, for rehabilitation. He could barely move or feel his left side and had some vision loss in his left eye. He was unable to walk, stand up or even wheel himself in a wheelchair, and he needed total assistance for getting in and out of bed, sitting, rolling out of bed, bathing and dressing. He needed extensive assistance with grooming and self-feeding and had impaired memory and problem-solving.
Slowly, physical, occupational and speech therapists helped John make progress. They used pain-relieving gel, manual therapy and electrical stimulation to help prime his muscles and tissues for movement.
As he regained strength, he was able to sit and stand and begin to work on gait with a standing frame and parallel bars. Physical therapists worked with him on reducing the pusher syndrome he was experiencing, where he pushed himself leaning toward the left. A full-length mirror helped him to straighten out his posture more.
Occupational therapists worked with John on restoring his skills in activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing and hygiene, as well as the motions of lifting silverware to feed himself.
“When John first came in, he could barely complete purposeful movement or even hold a conversation,” said Melissa McDivitt, occupational therapy assistant. “He has made such a miraculous recovery due to his tenacity, his sense of humor and his spirit. He was always motivated, even on the days he didn’t feel good. I will remember him forever.”
Speech therapy addressed John’s cognition and swallowing deficits, improving his memory and problem-solving skills and advancing him from a mechanical-soft diet to a regular diet.
“At one time, I thought I would never recover from anything because my accident was so severe,” John shared. “My therapists were instrumental in the process of showing me I could do better. Also, seeing others in the gym going through similar challenges helped motivate me.”
John is now able to walk, dress himself, participate in leisure activities and continue to make people laugh with his dry, witty sense of humor. He returned home on Feb. 25.