It Matters Where You Go For Stroke Care

Ingalls Stroke Patient Makes Remarkable Recovery

As a veteran actor of community theater, 58-year-old Peter Simon is familiar with dramatic irony and all of its surprising twists and turns.

But the term took on a very personal meaning for him last December as he performed on stage for the first time since suffering a stroke in the spring of 2007. The role he was playing? The ghost of a man who had died of a stroke.

Simon's return to the stage was nothing short of miraculous considering just months earlier, he couldn't lift his right arm or leg - much less perform in front of an audience.

Ironically, Simon driving home from a Chicago audition last March when he began having stroke-like symptoms. At the time, he passed it off as sciatica related to a herniated disc.

Fifteen minutes from his Manhattan home, Simon decided he could drive the rest of the way. But by the time he arrived home, the right side of his face was numb, and his right arm was heavy.

"I called my wife and said something's wrong," he remembers. Later, at an area hospital, doctors diagnosed a stroke, which had left his right side limp and lifeless. After a week-long hospital stay, Simon could wiggle the toes of his right foot and almost lift his right arm.

"I was far from recovered. They told me I would have to go to a rehabilitation facility," he said. "Everyone I talked to said, 'If you can go to Ingalls, go to Ingalls.'" And that's exactly what he did.

For two solid weeks in April 2007, Simon worked with a team of therapists at Ingalls' award-winning Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit from early in the morning until 7 o'clock at night.

He then began outpatient day rehabilitation three days a week at Ingalls Family Care Center in Flossmoor. Under the watchful supervision of Crystal Novak, physical therapy assistant who specializes in neurology, Simon worked on gait, balance and neurological "re-education," including walking with an ankle/foot orthosis. His occupational therapist, Barb Enns, OTR/L, worked with him on writing, gripping and other fine motor skills.

"He was very motivated," Novak remembers. "He really wanted to walk on his own again."

By the time he "graduated" from Ingalls' day rehabilitation program two months later, that's exactly what Simon was doing.

"I kept my sense of humor," he recalls. "I never got depressed. I kept telling myself, 'You're getting better here.'"

At one point during therapy, Simon told Novak that he acted in community theater so she and two Ingalls co-workers cheered him on last December when he took to the stage as a ghostly stroke victim in "A Nice Family Gathering."

"It was wonderful to see how far he'd come," she said. "He had suffered a pretty severe stroke, but he was up on stage.We were all so proud of him."

"Everyone at Ingalls was just great," he added. "They were fun, and they kept me motivated. I consider myself blessed, and I just thank God that I feel as good as I do."

Ingalls' stroke care program is the only one in the area to have earned the Gold Seal of Approval from the DNV for Primary Stroke Centers. And in 2006, the Ingalls Center for Rehabilitative Medicine became the first in the State of Illinois to receive a three-year stroke specialty accreditation by the prestigious Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

For more information, call Ingalls Care Connection at 1.800.221.CARE(2273).

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