​​UPMC Rehabilitation Institute - Patient Stories​​​​​​​

Follow the beat for a healthier life. Read our blog post on Identifying the Signs of Stroke.

Steve: Ischemic Stroke Rehab Patient Story

The Challenge: Loss of Feeling on His Left Side

Steve Young, 59, isn't one to back down from a challenge. Since 1991, he's been making his long work commute from Weirton, W.Va., to the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Oakland.

With all that time on the road, Steve managed to learn Italian while listening to books on tape. This daily perseverance would prove to be good preparation for the health journey that lay ahead of him.

One Saturday in June 2014, Steve went to a home improvement store in Steubenville, Ohio. He was looking for tools so that he could surprise his newly married daughter by doing work on her house.

As he walked into the store, he heard car keys hit the ground. He looked down and realized they were his.

He bent over to pick them up but couldn’t feel them in his left hand. He kept walking but his left side was giving out.

Steve thought to himself, “This isn’t a good place to be. I think I’m having a stroke.”

The Path to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

A CT scan at a nearby hospital confirmed that he had, in fact, suffered an ischemic stroke.

The next day, his wife heard him slurring his speech in his hospital bed and realized he was having a second stroke.

Steve soon transferred to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Mercy​.

When he first arrived, he couldn’t walk and wasn’t able to stand up without falling down. It took three nurses to get him into bed.

After two weeks at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, physical therapists were able to get him up and walking again.

The Solution: Rehab to Retrain His Body and Mind

Physical therapists had Steve perform a range of exercises to improve his balance. He also used exercise bands to help regain strength and movement.

Once he started walking again, most of his therapy focused on improving his ability to walk.

Steve also had occupational therapy. He used a hand-operated exercise bike since he had no use of his left hand and couldn't move his fingers.

To retrain his brain to do things he could do before the stroke, he played games on the Armeo®. The Armeo is a computerized machine with a toggle stick that helps improve arm movement.

The repetitive nature of the games helped Steve reestablish nerve connections in his brain.

“The nurses, doctors, and therapists worked very well together. They created a great healing environment that you could thrive and get well in,” remembers Steve.

“The communication between all of us was very good and everyone worked together like a well-oiled machine. My care was excellent.”

The Results: Spends His Sundays With Other Stroke Victims

Steve had always lived a healthy lifestyle. He ate well and exercised regularly.

But he had a family history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which doctors diagnosed him with in his 20s.

Thanks in part to his experience with the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, he wants to educate others about strokes.

He chose to volunteer at UPMC Mercy after his discharge and now spends every Sunday morning meeting with stroke patients.

“It’s easy to get depressed about your health situation when you’re in the hospital,” says Steve.

“I really enjoy meeting with current patients, telling them about my experience, listening to their concerns, and encouraging them while they recover. It’s very rewarding for me and I’m glad I can help others who are going through what I went through.”

He concludes:

“If you ever need care for a stroke — I hope you never do — go to the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute at UPMC Mercy. I consider it my home away from home.”​

Learn more about inpatient rehab

To find out more about our services, contact the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

Or, visit the UPMC HealthBeat blog to read:

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com