Stroke survivor able to kick start his recovery


CINCINNATI, Ohio – Each new day is precious for Brad and Sara Fahrenkamp and their little boys. Brad was a healthy, active father, when suddenly, at age 40, he suffered a stroke. 

"I was unable to see, unable to swallow, unable to walk," said Brad Fahrenkamp.

Stroke kills almost 130,000 Americans each year and stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. After a month in the hospital, Fahrenkamp got the okay to start rehab, and he was determined to walk again.

Neurological Physical Therapist Paige Thomas says that for his age and type of stroke, early mobility is critical to start retraining your brain in order to kick start recovery.

"The brain can be molded. So, even if you have damage to certain parts of your brain, you can essentially rewire it to assist and help itself," said Thomas, PT-MSR, NCS, MHA, who is the Outpatient Therapy Manager at UC Health-Drake Center.

Thomas says that starting early can help minimize any secondary complications and it helps patients avoid developing compensation patterns.

"The quicker that someone can start beginning therapy, getting up, and moving around, even in the hospital is the key," Thomas said.

In just six months Fahrenkamp's hard work led to a strong recovery and new joy in life.

"It sounds funny, but sometimes it's a matter of just recognizing that it's a beautiful day outside and that's what you should enjoy," he said.

Doctors say even years after a stroke people can continue to regain motor function. Fahrenkamp continues a rigorous therapy schedule at home to help his body and brain relearn what they once did so easily. Brad says the more he moves the more independent he feels.

Additional Information:

A stroke is a neurological condition that affects the brain cells due to a lack of oxygen. Typically, this causes the patient to lose the ability to perform basic motor functions such as speaking or walking. There are two types of strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke exists when a blood vessel on the brain's surface fissures and fills the space with blood between the skull and the brain. An ischemic stroke is the most common and occurs when a blood clot forms and blocks blood flow to the brain. A free-floating blood clot may also cause an ischemic stroke if the blood clot travels through the blood stream to the brain. (Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7624.php)

SYMPTOMS:  Common symptoms of having a stroke include:

With seven million stroke survivors, it is safe to say that a healthy recovery, with the right treatment and therapy, is possible. An early start to recovery is the most efficient way to recover because the damaged brain cells still have the potential to heal. Rehabilitation and therapy begin immediately after the stroke has occurred. Typically it begins in the hospital and will continue with in-home therapy to further patient's progression. The goal of doctors, therapists, and patients is for the patient to become independent again, and be able to complete basic skills. (Source: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=REHABT)