Aaron's Story

Aaron Beckner holds his toddler son at a celebration party for his recovery.

In heart of New Orleans, Aaron Beckner, an informatics pharmacist at Ochsner is dedicated to caring for others. A loving husband and father, Aaron enjoys a fulfilling life with his wife Sadie and their two-year-old son, William, who has cerebral palsy.

Aaron never expected to be on the receiving end of care himself – until a sudden stroke impacted him at the young age of 32.

While at the gym one day, Aaron experienced a crippling headache during his workout routine. Ignoring the pain, he pushed through his exercises until he found himself unable to rise from the floor.

The gym staff immediately called 911, and Aaron was rushed to Ochsner Baptist, where brain scans revealed a stroke. He was quickly transported to Ochsner Medical Center for additional care. His doctors were able to stabilize his condition in three days.

However, the stroke left him with impaired balance, coordination deficits, left-sided weakness in his arm and hand and apraxia of his arm (a neurological disorder that affects the brain pathways; his arm muscles were physically capable of moving but his brain was not processing those signals.) He was also experiencing neglect on his left side or a decreased attention and awareness of that side of the body.

Aaron would require specialized rehabilitative care to regain his lost strength and independence. He was transported to Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital to begin his rehabilitation journey.

Upon arrival at Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital, his physician-led interdisciplinary team worked with Aaron to put a treatment plan in place. Aaron’s main goal was to regain his independence so he could once again play with his son.

At the start, the physical therapy team noted Aaron was able to walk 220 feet with minimal assistance, transfer and navigate 12 steps with some assistance for balance. Aaron's therapists focused on addressing his left-sided weakness, balance issues and coordination deficits.

He used various techniques, such as treadmill walking with a LiteGait harness, jogging to enhance left-side control and weight-bearing exercises to strengthen his left hand. Combining his love for video games with therapy, he engaged in virtual reality activities like archery and painting, which improved his balance and left-hand function.

In addition, Aaron had to rely on assistance for everyday tasks like dressing, bathing and toileting. His occupational therapists focused on improving the use of his left arm and the ability to perform daily activities independently. He used the ArmeoSpring advanced technology device to enhance his left upper arm’s coordination and strength during therapy. With home on the horizon, his therapists directed the young father in picking up and carrying the weight of a toddler to get him ready to hold his son again.

Speech therapy also played a pivotal role in Aaron's recovery. Facing initial facial paralysis, he diligently undertook exercises and received electrical stimulation to regain strength and mobility. With aspirations to return to work as an informatics pharmacist, he tackled complex deductive reasoning puzzles, sharpening his cognitive functions. By the time of his discharge, Aaron's problem-solving, attention and planning skills had substantially improved.

Aaron’s recovery wasn’t a journey he took alone. His family's active participation, along with the integration of activities important to him, made Aaron's journey all the more meaningful.

As he got closer to discharge, Aaron’s team marveled at his remarkable milestones. He was able to walk over 3000 feet and navigate five flights of stairs without assistance. Eager to reunite with his wife and son, he felt ready to resume his life at home and his pharmacist role at work.

Aaron planned to continue his rehabilitation at Ochsner's outpatient clinic. While reflecting on his inpatient rehabilitation stay, Aaron said that the support from his wife and family allowed him to maintain a positive outlook while focusing on his therapy.

His advice to others on a similar health journey: “Be patient with yourself and learn to accept help from others.”