Elidia Andrade loves to garden, cook, clean, watch movies and take care of her dog. The 71-year-old was in the backyard with her niece when she went to pick up her nephew, and she couldn’t do it. Sensing something wasn’t right, her niece immediately called 911.
Elidia arrived by ambulance to Ochsner Main Campus. At the hospital, she presented with right sided weakness, difficulty talking and right facial droop. The care team performed a CT scan and determined she had a clot on the left side of her brain. Elidia had suffered a stroke.
She quickly underwent surgery to remove the brain clot. After five days of recovery from the surgery, Elidia and her family selected Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital for intensive inpatient rehabilitation to help her regain her independence.
Upon her arrival at Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital, the interdisciplinary rehabilitation team worked with Elidia to put a treatment plan in place. She would require physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Her physical therapy evaluation revealed significant challenges in standing, walking and maintaining balance due to her right-sided weakness. Elidia couldn’t use her right hand and had considerable weakness in her leg. With the guidance of her physical therapist, Elidia devoted herself to daily sessions aimed at her goal of improving her balance and strength.
Elidia began to use a hemiwalker, a walker designed for people with weakness on one side, which became pivotal in her progress to walking. Her perseverance paid off as she advanced from needing assistance to walking independently and mastering stairs with confidence. Elidia and her therapist also started an indoor garden during her stay to integrate her love of gardening into her sessions. While planting and tending to the garden, Elidia worked on her standing balance.
Restoring her speech and ability to communicate quickly became another important goal for Elidia. The stroke had caused right-sided facial weakness, making it challenging for her family and friends to understand her, especially over the phone. Working closely with her speech therapist, Elidia diligently practiced speaking exercises with compensatory strategies such as over-articulating and consciously pausing between words to improve her speech clarity. Additionally, the therapist helped her regain her ability to chew solid foods, marking a significant breakthrough in her recovery.
Despite facing difficulties with dressing, bathing and functional mobility, Elidia’s determination took hold during occupational therapy. Her occupational therapist included various techniques and devices to aid in Elidia’s recovery including neuromuscular facilitation, biofeedback and the Armeo-spring device—advanced technology that helped facilitate function in her right upper arm during therapy.
As days turned into weeks, Elidia’s strength and coordination progressed. By the time she completed her inpatient rehabilitation, she no longer required assistance with daily activities or functional mobility. Her progress was evident, and she discharged home with her family. She continued her journey towards greater independence with the help of home health therapy.
Reflecting on her 19-day experience at Ochsner Rehabilitation Hospital, Elidia expressed gratitude to the team of therapists who encouraged and supported her progress. Despite initial doubts, she found hope and strength in each step she took during her rehabilitation.
Elidia’s family played a vital role in her recovery, always having faith that her recovery journey would bring her back home. When asked about her rehabilitation experience, Elidia warmly described it as “wonderful.”
Her advice to others embarking on a similar journey was simple yet profound: “If you do what they tell you, you got it."