Sixty-nine-year-old Tom Liaboe of Prescott was watching television this past winter when he stood up and unexpectedly fell. His wife, Carol, heard the noise and ran upstairs to find Tom on the floor. He was barely able to move his right side, part of his face was drooping, and he was having trouble speaking.
Tom had suffered a stroke. He had become one of the nearly 2,000 individuals in Northern Arizona who are admitted annually to area hospitals for strokes. Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the nation, reducing mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
Tom, a retired network engineer, had always been an active individual. He enjoyed gardening, yard work and working on home projects – one of which was building gazebos. He and his wife had moved to Prescott eight months before his stroke, having purchased a three-level home.
“Because I was so active, both my wife and I were really surprised when my stroke occurred,” Tom says.
After initial treatment at a local hospital, Tom was transferred to Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital provides specialized physical rehabilitation services to patients recovering from disabling diseases and injuries like stroke. The hospital is nationally certified by The Joint Commission in Stroke Rehabilitation.
When Tom entered Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, he was unable to walk or speak. His right side was still extremely weak. A multidisciplinary medical team worked with Tom and Carol to develop customized goals for his recovery, which included receiving intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy treatments. Both he and Carol say they could really feel the impact from the teamwork.
“It was what I needed to recover,” Tom says. “I wanted to work as hard as I could to regain my abilities, which the staff helped me with. But, I never felt overworked or pushed beyond what I could do.”
After one month of inpatient rehabilitation, Tom began receiving care in his home through Mountain Valley Home for Health, the hospital’s home health arm. The home health team continued to work with Tom (and Carol), providing the therapies he needed to help him continue his healing. While providing treatment, the team taught Tom how to safely navigate the stairs in his house, how to get in and out of the shower, and how to walk securely in the neighborhood.
“I now can function in all three levels of my house,” Tom says. “I use the upstairs shower and bedroom. And I walk in the neighborhood for exercise. But, my favorite workouts now are water exercises in the pool. They really help me stretch my muscles.”
Carol says she considers her husband’s recovery “miraculous,” and says Tom’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Harvey Thomas, calls him his “miracle patient.”
“I’m really pleased that I have reached this level of ability again,” Tom says. “And, I credit that to everyone who helped me along the way – especially my rehabilitation team.”