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Stroke Rehabilitation

Helps Chicago Man Get Back in the Driver’s Seat

Dale Williams’ two-seater sports car is his pride and joy, its sparkling finish as pristine as the day he drove it home from the dealer.

So you can imagine his heartbreak when he discovered major damage to the driver’s side after a quick trip to the city last May. “The entire left side of the car was destroyed,” Dale recalls. Alarmingly, the 66-year-old husband and father had no idea how it happened. Something else was troubling Dale too; earlier in the day, he’d had problems with his left hand. He dropped things and had a hard time filling his car at the gas station. “I couldn’t position my left hand to open the door,” he said. The next day he went to file a police report about the accident, but he was fuzzy on the details. “I was still wondering what happened,” he adds. “I was trying to find a reason why or how.” That night, when he stumbled and fell twice in a matter of moments in his Chicago home, he knew he needed medical help. Fortunately, an emergency trip to the closest hospital gave him an answer; unfortunately, it wasn’t the one he wanted to hear. “The doctor told me, ‘Mr. Williams, you had a stroke.'” He was transferred by ambulance to a major Chicago medical center for specialty stroke care.

Inpatient Rehabilitation at Ingalls

After a week’s stay, Dale chose the Ingalls Center for Rehabilitative Medicine to complete his recovery. “I’m originally from Harvey,” he said. “I was born at Ingalls, and my 87-year-old mom still lives here. Since my wife was still working at the time, it would be easy for my mom to come visit me.”

The center became Dale’s home away from home.

“Initiating a rehabilitation program as soon as possible after a stroke or any brain dysfunction is critical to recovery,” explains Michael Marinko, MD, Medical Director of the Center. “Inpatient rehabilitation is the first step to a long process of recovery, adjustments and education for our patients and their families.”

When he arrived, Dale’s entire left side was compromised. He needed help walking and dressing. Day after day, he worked with a team of Ingalls rehabilitation experts that included a physician, physical and occupational therapists, nurses and counselors, all working toward the same goal: to help him regain his strength and his independence.

“I came here on my back, and I wanted to walk out of here,” he said. Over the course of a month, Dale progressed from a walker to a four-pronged cane to a regular cane. Today, he walks without any assistive device. He drives too, though he gave up his motorcycle. Best of all, his beloved sports car is good as new.

Dale eventually solved the mystery of how it had gotten so damaged in the first place.

“As I was driving south on I-57 that day, I must have hit the guardrail,” he explains. “I rode the guardrail for some time.” Miraculously, he made it home safely. “I feel blessed to have come this far,” he said.

Rehabilitation professionals have long understood the benefit of an inpatient program for people who've had a stroke. In May 2016, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association reinforced this position when they published new guidelines recommending inpatient rehabilitation whenever possible following stroke.

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