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Toni Talks about PT Today

What If It Happened to Me?

Published June 28, 2013 10:49 AM by Toni Patt

Every time I teach, I travel to different cities. Each course brings questions and stories about past and present patients. The general theme of these conversations is either to ask advice or describe a success story. Last week I heard something different. One of the attendees was there because her husband was a stroke survivor and she didn't know what to do.

Turns out she worked in an outpatient setting. Her husband's stroke was about four weeks previously. His motor and sensory recovery was complete but he was expressive aphasic. She was concerned for him and didn't know where to look for answers. She told me she didn't even know what words to research.

During the lunch break, she told me I was dead-on with my descriptions of how expressive aphasia presents and the natural recovery. She said she now knows what to research to help her understand. I suggested she talk to a speech therapist about mobile apps and therapy suggestions. As it turned out, the woman sitting behind was able to put her in contact with a speech therapist who specialized in that.

Hopefully things will work out well for her and her husband. But it made me wonder. What would I do if someone close to me had a stroke? I wouldn't sweat the medical stuff. Treatment guidelines are well established. I'd have to avoid any interaction during rehab as I would have very specific opinions about therapy. Probably best if I just stayed away. Then what?

I know the words. I know the process. I know the outcomes. I can describe almost perfectly what a stroke survivor looks and moves like. I don't know how I would react. I can see myself quoting the principles of neuroplasticity and pushing, pushing, pushing for more. I can also see myself excusing myself for doing rather than insisting in order to save time.

Anything but a stroke would be better. I mean that in terms of how I'd handle it, not for the person. There are many things worse than a stroke that could happen. I truly believe the less I know, the better. I would immediately begin researching and searching for answers. I'd learn everything available to know. And I wouldn't be nearly as difficult to deal with during therapy.


Sounds like you would be the best advocate for a family member! I would hope to have someone as experienced and informed as you in my corner if I ever needed it.

Jeanne July 3, 2013 9:47 AM

Just so you know, that post is not from your fellow blogger Dean.

Dean Metz June 30, 2013 10:47 PM

I remember challenging Peter Levine when he suggested that a colleague knew exactly what to do to recover from a stroke. The only way you can relatively easily recover from a stroke is if it is small and doesn't leave a dead black hole. The only real hope is that drugs are found to stop the neuronal cascade of death during the first week. Knowing that neuroplasticity is needed is still not going to help you move functions that were in the dead area to a new location. No one knows how to do that except maybe for Pedro Bach-y-rita and he's dead. Sorry for being opinionated but this is my life.

Dean June 29, 2013 10:27 PM

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