My long-term rehabilitation goal was to recover sufficiently to return to work without accommodation. That would require the ability to walk, drive and type with both hands. My short-term goal was to be able to walk out of Dodd Hall on my own. And I accomplished all of these things. I walked out of Dodd Hall without assistance. I returned to work a week later, although my wife drove me for several weeks until I was confident enough to drive myself.
From the minute we arrived at Dodd Hall, I realized that all the staff were treating me as a person, not as a job assignment. My greatest surprise was the sense of urgency demonstrated by the staff in achieving my goals. My physical therapist had me walking (with great assistance) around a pair of parallel bars on the first day. My occupational therapist had me dressing myself (again with assistance) on the first morning.
I was not sure what the purpose of recreational therapy was at first, but the morning after a failed session of toe tapping to music, I found I was able to move my right toes for the first time since the stroke. That achievement convinced me I was on the road to recovery.
My only frustration during rehab was the speed of my progress, but all of my therapists assured me I was progressing well above average.
What contributed to my success was the unbridled optimism of all the staff at Dodd Hall.
The rehab staff members each taught me how to overcome my condition and retrain my body and mind to perform the actions that I had learned as an infant.
Even though Dodd Hall was far from home my wife was extremely supportive, visiting me nearly every day. That involved either four hour daily commutes from our home or two hour daily commutes from her sister's home in Mansfield, Ohio, where she often stayed.
After additional out-patient physical and occupational therapy at a local hospital I achieved all my long-term goals. I walk one mile several days per week, weather permitting. I drive unaccompanied. I type with both hands. I was able to work full time without any accommodation. However, I am not, and possibly never will be, 100 percent. For example, I have difficulty kneeling or getting up from sitting on the floor and my right hand is not as strong or controlled as it used to be. The most significant impact this has on my life now is that I cannot perform much of the car restoration work I used to perform before the stroke. Nonetheless, these conditions do not interfere with my essential daily activities.
My advice for patients beginning the process is do not give up! Many of the other patients at Dodd Hall appeared to have surrendered to their condition and seemed to be merely going through the motions in therapy sessions. The best way to make progress is when you are engaged and actively participate in your therapy. The staff, as good as they are, can only help you help yourself.