Tag Archives: stroke

Trainer vs Physical Therapy – Mix it up

Allison and Kevin taking a walkI had a trainer for two years and he was great. My goals were stamina, strength and help my balance. He would come over twice a week for one hour. We would use my equipment, do exercises and walk outside (uneven surfaces) I also continued to do pool therapy twice a week.

Starting in May, I went back to physical therapy (pt), not just regular pt, but Neuro PT.  There are less Neurologic Physical Therapists in the U.S.  than you think. The therapists there all came from MedStar National Rehab Hospital (NRH), so have excellent experience.

What is a Neurologic Physical Therapist? A neurologic physical therapist is a physical therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with movement problems due to disease or injury of the nervous system. These include Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke.

They do an initial baseline evaluation and an evaluation every 10 visits. This is most helpful, as you can see any progress and it is tangible. They see no end to my progress.

I go to them twice a week for one hour each visit and they have lots of equipment that can be used. They are wonderful and understand how neurological disorders affect movement. They also teach.

I still also do pool therapy twice a week. I think it’s good to mix it up. Every therapist is different, every neurological disorder or disease is different and have different plans for your improvement. So, you are using different muscles.

Do you find doing different therapies has helping in your healing process?


Give Back – It’s easy!

AllisonAs I focus on Stroke, I wanted to share an easy way to give back. It’s the perfect time with back-to-school and fall around the corner.

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Macy’s will host its 9th annual Shop For A Cause benefiting charities nationwide. Since 2006, Shop For A Cause has raised more than $48 Million for charities across the country. The Stroke Comeback Center is participating.

Buy a Macy’s Savings Pass for $5.00 and when you shop at Macy’s on Saturday, August 23, 2014, you’ll receive 25% off* on regular, sale and clearance merchandise, including designer brands you love, throughout the store, as well as 10% off electronics, furniture, mattresses and area rugs. And, they will be eligible to win a $500 gift card, no purchase necessary.

* Exclusions and restrictions apply. See shopping pass for details.

Help the Stroke Comeback Center and shop, shop, shop!



AllisonWhat is a tool? It is something to help you do something.

When I had my stroke, I was adamant about not having a wheelchair. All my doctors, nurses, family and friends told me it would allow me to do things on my own. I said “no.” Then, I was told I had to get to therapy on my own. Mmmmm. I guess I had to use a wheelchair. I then used the wheelchair to go to Bingo one evening, each week. They were right.

Now, I am walking without a cane, but have a Trendelenburg gait (think Mea West) and furniture walk. When I go to pt therapy, they have me use a cane and I walk fine. Using a cane would allow me the independence I do not have yet, due to my balance or lack there of. I was told it’s just a “tool” until I train my body to walk normal again and then it will go away. Mmmmm.

What tool has helped you?

Would you do it if it gave you freedom?



AllisonFriendship helps heal. Motivation and encouragement is also wonderful. Don’t be afraid of Stroke survivors, they need you more than ever.

Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

Don’t walk away; I am so fortunate, friends before my stroke are still my friends and they treat me the same. They love me, for me.

Do you know someone who has been touched by Stroke? Have you walked towards them or away? Think about how you would want to be treated.

I have heard from people I have not been in touch with in some time. I think my Stroke brought into focus just how fragile life is.



Mark Your Calendars

AllisonI am pleased to be part of the planning committee for this special event celebrating the Stroke Comeback Center’s 10th anniversary.

Please plan to join me in October. Please forward this email to others who should attend & send me the names of other potential supporters & sponsors.

The Center provides stroke rehab services to survivors after their insurance has run out.  We are very lucky to have the Center in our area — there are fewer than 10 in all of the U.S. & Canada!

To learn more about the Stroke Comeback Center visit:  www.strokecomebackcenter.org.  You can call me, or the Center at 703-255-5221 or email: 10years@strokecomebackcenter.org .

See you in October!

Save the Date!

Stroke Comeback Center

10 year Anniversary Celebration

The Art of Communicating

Thursday, October 30, 2014

6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

USA TODAY Headquarters

7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia

Helping others

AllisonAs a stroke survivor, in my new life, I am hoping to give others  hope. When someone has a stroke, everyone in the family has a stroke. From my book, I have met many people who have reached out. My book hopes to help family/loved ones understand what the stroke/locked-in patient is going through. Every stroke is different and the book is about my recovery. The most important thing you can do is give the patient the best environment to succeed. Be patient though! Believe me, the person wants to recover as much as you want them to recover.

I am also doing marketing/volunteering for stroke groups. I want something good to come of this.

When life changes abruptly you have to adapt. Has this happened to you? What did you do?


I am still progressing

Allison drivingI am still progressing and miss my independence. While I have been approved to drive by the DMV, once you get to your destination you have to walk. My balance is still not good, especially on uneven surfaces. I continue to do therapy (pool and physical) to progress. My therapists have no doubt my balance will come back.

When we travel, I still need a wheelchair to get through the airport. We also get a handicap hotel room when we travel. I long for normalcy.

My husband leaves me alone while at work or when he travels and I treasure time alone.

Friends are very important and give a sense of normalcy. They have been crucial in my recovery.

I miss work a lot, although I have my book and am doing volunteer/marketing on stroke. This is now quite close to my heart.

I know I am lucky to have progressed to where I am, considering where I was. Every stroke and recovery are different. I am not done though, I will regain my independence and get back to as normal a life as possible.





Why am I so focused on getting the word out?

ResizeImageHandler.ashx copyI am so focused on getting out the word on stroke to make something good come from something so terrible. A stroke affects everyone (spouse, family, friends) and you are at a loss of what to do when tragedy strikes. My book details things that we found helpful. Why re-create the wheel? People are overwhelmed with grief, but you need to be strong for the survivor.

I always did volunteer work, but now it’s personal. A stroke is a nightmare and I want to help others avoid or learn to deal with it gracefully. It is a change in your life; one you did not ask for.

Every stroke is different and recovery different. I think my stroke was very surprising to many (I just had a clean bill of health two weeks prior) and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Be knowledgeable. I know it’s not an exciting/sexy topic, but one that needs to be addressed. Learn about stroke today and read my book for my story.


An Inspirational Story of Survival in the Face of Stroke & Locked-In Syndrome

book_cvr“I cleaned the house, which to me was like therapy. Later that evening, I spoke to our friend and dentist, Brian,
and said I didn’t feel well. He thought it was because I
had not eaten. Then later, the room started to spin. I also
had a terrible ringing in my ear and nausea. I just didn’t
feel right. I called my neighbors (Gisela and her husband,
Richard) and asked them to come over, as Kevin was on a
flight from Arizona. I unlocked the door for my neighbors
to come in, holding on to furniture to maintain balance as
the room was spinning, and went back onto the bathroom
floor. Upon entering the house and seeing me on the
bathroom floor, they said either they were taking me to the
emergency room or calling 911. They immediately helped
me down the front stairs and we were on our way; the
hospital was ten to fifteen minutes away. It was late, and the ER was somewhat full. She told the attending nurse, “You must take care of my friend now!” They did a test and ruled out a heart attack.

Next, they did a CT scan (which I don’t remember)and said I had vertigo and was dehydrated. They gave me fluids. Kevin arrived around midnight, and around 2:30 a.m., they released me from the hospital and sent me home with prescriptions to be filled in the morning.”

This is just a peek inside the book. You know your body and if something just doesn’t feel right. Fortunately, I was alert enough to be able to call a neighbor. If you were alone in an emergency, could you call a neighbor or 911? Be prepared should an emergency happen. Learn the symptoms  of stroke and go to the ER. Be better prepared and better safe than sorry. You’ll also know to have them rule out stroke.

May is Stroke Awareness Month

ResizeImageHandler.ashx copyHow much do you know about strokes? Most people are not well informed in what a stroke is and how they happen because it’s not important at the time. But, it is. I thought strokes happen to older people, so I didn’t need to worry. May is the perfect time to learn about strokes. When someone has a stroke, everyone around that person is affected.

Spouses, family and friends are overwhelmed when a trauma happens, so be prepared. I also want to share what we found helpful, including ongoing encouragement.

Out of the Darkness is my first-hand experience of a brain stem stroke resulting in a Locked-In Syndrome. This book chronicles the events of my massive stroke, as well as my will and determination to fight for my life and independence. This is the story of a miraculous recovery in the face of enormous odds, the task of relearning everything, the overwhelming challenges, and the lessons I learned about myself when faced with adversity. My positive attitude and being goal-oriented also played a big role.

The word “stroke” is scary, but not knowing is worse. Reading Out of the Darkness gives a stroke survivor’s account and it gives the reader a glimpse into the mindset of the person going through the trauma.