Lansing Man Speaks Clearly Again Following Stroke Rehab

Fifty-nine-year-old Greg Ambrose remembers Dec. 23, 2003, as if it were yesterday.

Feeling energized, the Lansing resident decided to squeeze in a workout before the hustle and bustle of the holidays began.

As he started to run on the treadmill, though, Greg started feeling funny. Then his eyes started playing tricks on him. "It was like I could see the constellations in the daytime," he recalls.

Concerned, he went home and took a nap. When his wife came home and brought in holiday cards from the mail, Greg made a startling discovery: He couldn't read a single word on any of them. None of it made sense.

"I told my wife to take me to a hospital right away,"he recalls. Doctors diagnosed him with a stroke, treated him and discharged him a day or two later. Unfortunately, he suffered two more strokes at home on Christmas day.

"By this time, I was really messed up," he said. Greg couldn't read, form words or understand what others were saying. "It was so frustrating," he said.

Greg faced a long road ahead to regain his lost speech and language skills. Luckily, his wife scheduled him for a consultation at the Ingalls Center for Outpatient Rehabilitation in Calumet City. That's where he met Janine Alfirevic, MS, CCC-SLP-L, speech therapist. The clinical term Alfirevic used to describe Greg's condition was "moderately severe aphasia."

Over the next three months, Greg worked with Alfirevic to regain his lost communication skills. Steadily, his language skills returned. Before long, he was speaking as clearly as he did before the strokes.

"Janine was my angel," he gratefully explains. "She really motivated me. I'm able to do what I'm doing today because of Janine and company at Ingalls."

Nearly eight years after his debilitating strokes, Greg is still a regular participant at the hospital's Stroke Support Group. But instead of needing encouragement, now he's the one giving it.

"Greg made so much progress during therapy," Alfirevic said. "He's a wonderful mentor to our other patients."

"It's my feeling that I need to give back," Greg concluded. "Without the help I got for the speech and aphasia, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today."

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