An Interview with Nancy Welty: Recovery from Stroke

Jan 7, 2013 by

stroke_advancesMichael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Nancy, I understand that you recently had a stroke- what happened and when ?

Actually I had a brain tumor resection in July 2007, that resulted in physical changes consistent with a stroke. Upon waking from the operation, I could not move my left side (brain tumor on right side of the brain). I could hardly sit up and was in a wheelchair.

2) What are some of your limitations ?

My current limitations are that I cannot write with my left hand (I was left handed) and I have no fine motor control with my left hand. I cannot lift my left arm over my head. I can walk, but my gait is not good as I have drop foot and cannot bend my left knee to help my toes clear the ground.

3) How were you first informed and what type of preliminary rehabilitation was offered?

A few days after surgery, I went to inpatient rehab for three weeks. I was assigned to a stroke unit as my deficiencies mirrored a person who had a stroke. I took my first steps in rehab, but upon discharge I was still in a wheelchair and was discharged to my home, set up to go to outpatient rehab (2 or 3 times a week) at the same facility.

4) What limitations resulted?

I couldn’t drive, couldn’t do anything much for myself, couldn’t write, and was completely dependent.

5) I understand that you encountered a book-can you tell us when you first came across it?

I discovered the book The Successful Stroke Survivor, in February 2012, while searching the internet for rehabilitation information. This was 4 1/2 years after my surgery, so I had been through many different rehabilitation programs.

6) When did you start to use it?

I actually started using the book on April 17, 2012. I am a Certified Public Accountant, so I cannot rehab during tax season, but I pored through the book every night – it was so motivating! I began as soon as tax season was over.

7) What preliminary results did you get?

The preliminary results I achieved was feeling positive about everything I had accomplished so far in my rehab. The author suggests you go through all the training exercises starting at the beginning. What a thrill to see that I can do some things! Rehab is a very solitary road (no matter how many caring people you have around you) and the positive feedback from working through this program cannot be overstressed. Many more positive results followed, but this was my preliminary finding.

8) What was/is different about it relation to any other book/manual that you have encountered ?

In my opinion, this book stands alone as a rehab book that ANYONE can put into practice. I purchased many rehab books that I could not get started with because they were too difficult. It can be very disheartening. In addition to the exercises, the entire text of this book is spot on. This author has been where you are – he understands! Believe me, that is a rarity.

9) Have you seen anything similar to it out there in the field?

I haven’t seen anything like it out there (and I have looked!) – this is a book in which you can virtually work on rehabilitation on your own if you are able. It’s not limited to that – it covers all possibilities – but that is the part that really appealed to me. After a short time insurance benefits run out, and you just get tired of going to the same old rehab situations.

10) Does it address what stroke/ABI survivors need?

I believe the book more than addresses what stoke/ABI survivors need – it gives them hope and a workable plan to work toward, and hopefully achieve, their goals.

11) Were you able to work with the author to design a special individualized program?

I was. He has very specific examples in the book for setting up a program, and sent me an individualized program when I e-mailed him with a question. It was very much appreciated, and I must say, no one had ever done that for me before.

12) Were there any particular techniques/strategies you felt were excellent?

There are several:

Guidance: That it is very important to record your training sessions – this has helped me more than once when I didn’t feel I was making progress – read back over a few weeks and surprise! – you are doing much better.

Also, the author will indicate, for example – “This is one of the three most important exercises to help with your walking”, so you know what’s important.

Flexibility: The indication by the author that if you don’t like one training exercise – skip it – there are so many more.

The Hard Work: ALL the training exercises are so well thought out, explained & illustrated. This is unusual – and great!

Motivation: It occurs throughout the volume – in the text – and in the training exercise descriptions.

Challenging: I was able to get rid of my AFO (ankle Foot Orthotic) because of this book. I now walk with no AFO and no cane.

This is unbelievable to me, and I shouldn’t have listed it last.

13) Would you recommend this book to others?

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, who needs physical recovery, from stroke or brain injury.

14) What have I neglected to ask?

The only thing I would like to say is that this is a truly remarkable book. I have been immersed in this for several years now and it’s easy to lose hope. Recovery is a very long and difficult road, and to find a book by someone who truly wants to help you get better, have been there themselves, and provides a roadmap, is outstanding.

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