Starting stroke therapy early key for kick-starting recovery

Strokes kill almost 130,000 Americans each year and are a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

At 40-years-old, Brad Fahrenkamp was sidelined by a stroke, a time when many young fathers are busy with work and after-school sports.

“I was unable to see, unable to swallow, unable to walk,” said Fahrenkamp.

Yet after spending one month in the hospital, Brad started rehab, and he was determined to walk again.

Neurological physical therapist Paige Thomas says that for his age and type of stroke, early mobility is critical to start retraining your brain in order to kick start recovery.

“The brain can be molded, and so even if you have damage to certain parts of your brain, you can essentially rewire it to, to assist and, um, help itself,” said Thomas, who works at the University of
Cincinnati’s Drake Center.

Thomas says that starting early can help minimize any secondary complications and it helps patients avoid developing compensation patterns.

“The quicker that someone can start beginning therapy, getting up, and moving around, even in the hospital is, is, the key,” she said.

In just six months Brad’s hard work led to a strong recovery and new joy in life.

"Sounds funny, but sometimes it's a matter of just recognizing that it's a beautiful day outside and that's what you should enjoy,” remarked Fahrenkamp.

REPORT #2054

BACKGROUND: A stroke is a neurological condition that affects the brain cells due to a lack of oxygen. Typically, this causes the patient to lose the ability to perform basic motor functions such as speaking or walking. There are two types of strokes: hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke exists when a blood vessel on the brain's surface fissures and fills the space with blood between the skull and the brain. An ischemic stroke is the most common and occurs when a blood clot forms and blocks blood flow to the brain. A free-floating blood clot may also cause an ischemic stroke if the blood clot travels through the blood stream to the brain. (Source:

SYMPTOMS: Common symptoms of having a stroke include:

* Headache
* Paralysis in the face, leg, or arm
* Issues walking
* Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Issues speaking and understanding (Source:

STROKE THERAPY: With seven million stroke survivors, it is safe to say that a healthy recovery, with the right treatment and therapy, is possible. An early start to recovery is the most efficient way to recover because the damaged brain cells still have the potential to heal. Rehabilitation and therapy begin immediately after the stroke has occurred. Typically it begins in the hospital and will continue with in-home therapy to further patient's progression. The goal of doctors, therapists, and patients is for the patient to become independent again, and be able to complete basic skills. (Source:

For More Information, Contact:

Paige Thomas, PT-MSR, NCS, MHA
Neurological Physical Therapist/Outpatient Therapy Manager
UC Health-Drake Center
(513) 418-2755

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