Treatment Within Reach

Karen Bess relaxes with her dogsFor Karen Bess, 66, the rehab team at Augusta Health was just what she needed. In 2005, Karen didn't even know she was having a stroke when she fell over a few times. "I couldn't get my balance and I figured that my new shoes were too heavy since my legs felt very tired," says Karen. When she fell again and had to crawl into the house, Karen went to Augusta Health's emergency room, where the neurologist told her she had suffered three strokes. Two days later, Karen suffered a fourth stroke that caused her to have speech problems, trouble swallowing and an inability to walk or move her left leg or arm.

Karen spent a month at Augusta Health undergoing extensive physical, occupational, speech and recreation therapy. "The staff was caring and understanding. They were the best cheerleaders a person could want," she says. Karen is slowly recovering and is looking forward to celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary this year.

"We tell our patients and their families that rehabilitation takes time," says Payne. "It can take months or years for the brain and the body to heal."

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Augusta Health's Rehabilitation Program

The treatment care team at Augusta Health is made up of several healthcare professionals who attend to patients' medical, physical, emotional, social, and recreation needs. Therapy includes traditional rehab (working on strength, balance, range of motion, and speech) with innovative programs such as education, community re-entry, home evaluation, aquatic therapy, and animal-assisted therapy.

Stroke? Act F.A.S.T

A stroke is a brain attack that cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability.

Don't delay in assessing symptoms. "Treatment time is critical," says Shelley Payne, CTRS. Augusta Health physicians can give patients a clot-busting medicine called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, within three hours from the onset of the first sign of a stroke for patients who qualify for such treatment. Time lost is brain lost. If you or a loved one has symptoms, get emergency care.

Here’s an easy and F.A.S.T. way to recognize and respond to stroke symptoms:
  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does his or her speech sound slurred or strange?
  • Time. If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1. Every minute counts in treating stroke.

Get The Support You Need

The Shenandoah Valley Stroke Club support group promotes stroke education for patients, families and caregivers in the community. To learn more, call Shelley Payne, CTRS, coordinator of the Shenandoah Valley Stroke Club, at (540) 33 2-4047.