Using a positive attitude to recover from stroke

After a weekend at the family beach house last May, James and Patty Bensinger returned to their respective jobs in the Appoquinimink School District. Driving into work that morning from his Wyoming, Delaware, home, James said something didn’t feel quite right. By the end of the day, he was experiencing weakness in his right arm. James was suffering from a stroke.

Following a stay in a hospital and an inpatient rehabilitation facility, James returned home in July. He was referred to Bayhealth Outpatient Therapy to continue his journey of recovery.

Throughout the week, James worked with physical, occupational, and speech therapists. In therapy, he learned how to dress himself, eat, and do chores around the house like loading and unloading the dishwasher. By September, James was doing so well that he no longer needed a caretaker to assist him at home. James is a carpenter by trade. Although he hasn’t yet returned to work, and faces some language barriers, James continues to make great strides in his recovery.

“Stroke recovery is a lifelong process,” said Occupational Therapist Brittany Schwartz.

“Patients achieve goals in therapy at different rates. The most rapid recovery takes place in the first 12 months after the stroke.”

James graduated from therapy in December 2016. At that time he was provided with home exercise programs so that he could continue making progress. He was also encouraged to attend Bayhealth’s Stroke Support Group for people who have suffered from a stroke and their support person. “We encourage all patients to attend and learn from others who have encountered similar experiences,” said Schwartz.

“That day changed our lives,” said Patty. “At the same time, it’s brought us closer together. I think the biggest factor in his recovery has been the fact he hasn’t wallowed. He remains positive, and is determined to get better and get back to work. My advice for other families going through this is to take it day by day. You will get better if you work at it.”

Visit bayhealth.org/outpatient-therapy for more information on Outpatient Therapy services at Bayhealth.