The MedRehab program is celebrating 25 years of service. Paul and Joan Christensen shared how Paul was able to recover after an unexpected stroke put him in the hospital.
Paul: I had a stroke when I was 59. I was not a candidate for stroke, being a non-smoker who exercised regularly and was in good health, so it was definitely a complete surprise. The stroke resulted in left side paralysis and I was unable to walk at first. I was originally admitted to St. Joe’s Hospital in Pontiac, but I wanted to come back to Ann Arbor for outpatient care. U-M is our home hospital, and we wanted to come back to where our doctors were.
Joan: It was quite a shock at first. It’s completely essential to stroke recovery to continue rehabilitation after the inpatient phase, so we discussed Paul’s needs with his doctors and how we could deal with them. We were told of the MedRehab program and began sessions from there when Paul came home. When he first started rehab, he was in a wheelchair. After a couple of months, he came out walking with a cane.
Paul: I am not completely out of medical care, but I’m out of medically supervised rehabilitation. When I was at MedRehab, I didn’t have to stick with just one therapist; it was very useful to experience the differences in each therapist’s approach. They were all demanding, and it can be painful, difficult and frustrating to do things that don’t work at first. They jokingly told me “We may hurt you” but it was for my own good and helped me to improve.
Joan: The MedRehab staff was very engaged in having Paul try different equipment, anything that they thought would help him. For example, they used robot assisted walking therapy with the Lokomat, which was essentially a state of the art treadmill that taught you to walk again using a harness.
Paul: They knew I was up for it. When I first started, I was attending 3 one hour sessions, 3 days a week, one hour each with Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy. I also spent some time with a staff psychologist and a counsellor in order to analyze everything I was going through and provide guidance on coping with a new and difficult situation.
Joan: The different therapists were all closely integrated, so everyone knew where Paul was in recovery and what he needed to do next. They were also a tremendous help when it came to transitioning between inpatient care, outpatient care, and finally independent at-home care. It can be very difficult and overwhelming when you’re on your own and dealing with such a life changing event. The staff came up with programs that we could continue and build on, on our own. There was also the option of using their Gym Clinic, where we could use some of their equipment ourselves with minimal supervision. We can’t thank all the staff at MedRehab enough, and we do mean all; they are all stars to us.
Paul: I continue to see improvements in my abilities even now, and to me that is due to the help I received at MedRehab when I came home from the hospital.
Take the Next Step:
- Learn more about Rehabilitation and Therapies at the University of Michigan Health System
- Visit Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to learn more about MedRehab
- Become familiar with the signs of Stroke
- Learn about how the U-M Comprehensive Stroke Program earned elite certification status.
For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including national rankings in 25 specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.