MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana - "My right arm just dropped. I couldn't pick up my hand, so I asked my wife to call the ambulance."
On Sunday, March 1, this was how Robert (Bob) Pliskey first experienced his stroke.
Bob was taken to Franciscan St. Anthony Health - Michigan City, where he was admitted to the ICU. Within hours of entering the ICU, Robert was evaluated by physical therapist Kelly Villaneuva, an expert in Early Mobility and whose specialty is helping critically-ill patients move. By this time, the stroke affected Bob so that he was unable to walk. Thanks to her Early Mobility training, Kelly was able to help Bob sit up, stand, and even stay up in a chair that day.
During his hospital stay, Bob was also seen by occupational therapist Nicole Braun (another Early Mobility expert) and speech and language pathologist, Jill Craig, who modified Bob's diet to prevent pneumonia. This therapy team minimized Bob’s risk for complications from his stroke and recommended that he transfer to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Franciscan St. Anthony Health – Michigan City.
Three days after his stroke, Bob entered the Rehabilitation Unit.
Bob described his therapy goals: "What I wanted to do was to walk to the TV room and to the bathroom. And the therapist came up and said, 'You're going to do this.' And I’m able to do that now."
Of his care at Franciscan St. Anthony Health, Bob said, "I could not ask for anybody or anything better. They were fantastic…the therapists, the nurses, the aides, everybody."
When Bob entered rehab, he walked five feet in parallel bars with 75 percent assistance. After Bob spent 23 days working hard at Rehab, he left walking 350 feet independently with the use of a cane.
During his rehab stay, Bob's occupational therapist helped him to functionally use his right hand while standing so that he could care for himself. Bob is continuing his recovery in outpatient therapy through the RIC at Franciscan Physician Network - Coolspring Health Center in Michigan City.
In outpatient speech therapy, Bob will receive VitalStim® Therapy, the only FDA approved treatment that successfully combines neuromuscular electrical stimulation with traditional dysphagia therapy.
Bob’s outpatient speech therapists, Ann Bates and Sydney Roule, are certified VitalStim® Therapists, who are using this tool to improve his swallow safety.
Bob’s outpatient therapists attribute his success to hard work, and they expect to see Bob reach his goal of returning to work soon.
Bob said that his recovery is going better than expected and says that he would recommend therapy services through RIC at Franciscan St. Anthony Health "because they are great. I’ve never had therapy before, but they gave me hope from the beginning. They were nothing but positive."
By Bill Bero
Manager, Media Relations & Publications, Franciscan Alliance - Northwest Indiana