As a firefighter and emergency medical technician for Kansas City, Missouri, Amy was in picture-perfect health, thriving in her job. On Dec. 18, 2012, Amy, 29, had just finished an intense workout in the on-site work gym when she collapsed with no warning, hitting her head on the back of a fire truck. Her co-workers rushed to help her, securing an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
Amy remembers everything about her ride to the hospital, recalling how her speech sounded slurred and garbled as though intoxicated. Once in the intensive care unit, she did not realize the severity of what had happened. But, it wasn’t long before she discovered she could not move the left side of her body. A CT scan revealed she had experienced an ischemic stroke from a carotid artery dissection. Doctors were unable to determine what caused this to happen, and Amy’s good health made it even more puzzling.
After a few weeks in the acute care hospital, Amy was ready for rehabilitation. Knowing skilled nursing was not the option she needed for her greatest chance of renewing independence, she chose MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital. Amy and her mother liked that the goal of MidAmerica was to help patients regain independence sooner and return them home and to the community.
Amy arrived to MidAmerica in a wheelchair, unable to walk or use the left side of her body. She was greeted by team members who were nice and helpful, and her room made her feel comfortable. Right away, she was evaluated for her personalized therapy plan and began speech, occupational and physical therapies, focusing on being able to walk again.
“All of my therapists wanted me to succeed,” Amy said. “They didn’t ‘hold my hand’ at all, but inspired me to do what I could.”
Amy was also encouraged by the constant support from her boyfriend, family and friends. Advanced technologies such as the Dynavision™ and the Bioness® NESS H200® were integrated into her program. And she used a walker to move around, but quickly progressed to using a cane without assistance. To help support her in her walking, Amy’s therapist equipped her with an ankle-foot orthosis.
On Valentine’s Day, Amy was discharged from rehabilitation and returned home, needing only minimal assistance from family and friends. To maintain her progress, she started MidAmerica’s outpatient therapy program twice a week, exercised on her own, and used a personal trainer.
Amy returned to work in a modified role in September 2013, and currently works as an emergency medical dispatcher. Her long-term goal is to return to her previous role of firefighting and providing emergency care. She strives to remain positive and focused on a full recovery. Her recovery has been a journey she wants to share with others.
“It is hard work,” Amy said, “but you can’t expect someone else to fix you and make you do the work. It’s all up to you.”
Today, Amy works out daily, loves to shop, and tries to go to any event she is invited to, “because you never know,” Amy said. “It is so important to live life now.”